How To Switch From Birth Control Pills To Nuvaring

In our latest question and answer, the pharmacist discusses how to switch from oral birth control pills to Nuvaring.

Question

I am switching from a combination birth control to the Nuva Ring. I just finished my last pill with hormones. Do I take the placebo pill for a week and when I would normally start my new pack then insert the ring instead? Or insert the ring on my first day on the placebo?

Asked by Julliee15 On Feb 25, 2018

Answered by
Medical Content Reviewed By PharmacistAnswers Staff

On Feb 28, 2018

NuvaRing (ethinyl estradiol/etonogestrel) is a small vaginal ring that contains both an estrogen and a progestin. It has an advantage over oral birth control pills as it only needs to be inserted vaginally and changed once a month. It can also be taken out for up to 3 hours and reinserted with no loss of contraceptive efficacy.


It is very common for indivuals to be on oral birth control pills and switch to Nuvaring. Below, we discuss how to safely switch from birth control pills to Nuvaring.


Estrogen/Progestin Containing Birth Control Pills To Nuvaring

The most commonly used birth control pills contain both an estrogen and a progestin. These are known as "combined" hormone birth control pills.


If you are taking a combined hormone birth control pill:

  • You can switch from your previous combined hormonal birth control pill on any day, but at the latest on the day following the usual hormone-free interval.


For example, if you take your birth control pill per the usual dosing (21 days of "active" pills followed by 7 days of "inactive" or "placebo" pills), you can switch to Nuvaring at anytime during the cycle. The latest you can switch to Nuvaring is on the day you would be starting a new pack of pills to continue your cycle (i.e. the day after your last placebo pill).


It is important to note that regardless of the time you switch to Nuvaring, you will use Nuvaring for a full cycle. For example, if you are in the middle of taking your active pills and you switch to Nuvaring mid-cycle (i.e. during the time you are taking your "active" birth control pills), you will still keep Nuvaring in for a full 3 weeks.


Does This Method Protect You From Pregnancy?

Yes, if you have been taking your birth control pills consistency, there is no need to use back-up birth control when switching from them to Nuvaring (as long as you switch during the time described above). If you wait longer than the day after your last placebo pill, you would need to use back-up birth control until the ring has been in place for a full 7 days.


Progestin Only Birth Control Pills To Nuvaring

Progestin only pills, unlike combined hormone pills, contain only a progestin and do not contain an estrogen.


Similar to combined hormone pills, you can switch on any day from a progestin only pill to Nuvaring.


Does This Method Protect You From Pregnancy?

No, you need to use back-up birth control if you are sexually active as you will not be protected from pregnancy for the first seven days of ring use. Once the ring has been in place for a full 7 days, back-up birth control is no longer needed.


Summary

  • If you are taking an estrogen/progestin (i.e. combined birth control pill), you can switch to Nuvaring on any day up to the day following your 7 day period where you usually take your "inactive" pills. If you have been taking your birth control pills consistently, there is no need for back-up birth control.
  • If you are taking a progestin only pill (i.e. minipill), you can switch to Nuvaring at anytime but you will need to use back-up birth control until the ring has been inserted for a full 7 days.


About the Pharmacist

Dr. Brian Staiger Pharm.D

Dr. Brian Staiger is a licensed pharmacist in New York State and the founder of PharmacistAnswers.com. He graduated from the University At Buffalo with a Doctor of Pharmacy degree in 2010. He has been featured in numerous publications including the Huffington Post as well as a variety of health and pharmacy-related blogs. Please feel free to reach out to him directly if you have any inquiries or want to connect! He's answered thousands of medication and pharmacy-related questions and he's ready to answer yours! Brian.Staiger@PharmacistAnswers.com Office: 716-389-3076

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