The vaginal ring is a form of hormonal birth control that is inserted into the vagina monthly. While the vaginal ring is not the same as an IUD, we are sharing information on this site due to the significant number of health risks and deaths that have occurred in women using vaginal rings such as NuvaRing®.

NuvaRing® contains the progestin etonogestrel, the biologically active metabolite of desogestrel. As with other third generation contraceptives (contraceptives that contain the progestin desogestrel), NuvaRing® may carry a higher risk for developing blood clots than first and second generation contraceptives. Merck—the manufacturer of NuvaRing®—has been embroiled in class action litigation since the early 2000s, due to injuries and deaths attributed to NuvaRing® use. Several such high-profile cases have come to light in the media over the years, detailing young women who have suffered venous thromboembolisms (VTEs), which have resulted in pulmonary embolisms, heart attacks, strokes, and even deaths. 

Because NuvaRing® contains synthetic hormones, common side effects are similar to those experienced by those on the birth control pill and hormonal IUD. In addition to those side effects, other common side effects may include vaginal infections and irritation, and vaginal itching or discharge.

In addition to the risk for blood clots, other serious side effects of NuvaRing® include toxic shock syndrome, allergic reactions, and stomach pain. 

Women’s experiences with the vaginal ring

In the 2019 Citizen’s Petition to the FDA on hormonal contraceptives, one user of vaginal rings shared her experience in a public comment: “I experienced panic attacks and horrific migraines on the Nuva Ring. One migraine occurred while I was driving on the interstate. I had to pull over and call my husband to drive an hour to come get me. Surgical exploration showed that the contraceptives I had been on did NOT prevent my endometriosis from growing. And, the years of damage caused by the contraceptives led to my infertility.”

Worse, a number of parents shared at the FDA petition that their daughters had died of cardiovascular events while on the NuvaRing®. One mother whose 19-year-old daughter died shared that she believes,”testing should be a prerequisite before women are put on birth control. Testing of blood and hormones should be completed. More education and awareness of the side effects of birth control should be taught to young women … NuvaRing ended my precious daughter’s life and ruined my life. Nothing will ever be the same.”

Natural Alternatives to Birth Control

Safe, side effect-free, and effective natural birth control options based on learning the signs that mark the fertile and infertile phases of a woman’s cycle, are known as fertility awareness or natural family planning methods. These methods also serve as practical tools for monitoring reproductive health while offering the many health benefits of a naturally functional fertility cycle.

NuvaRing® is a registered trademark of Merck.