Nuvaring Side Effects
NuvaRing side effects including blood clots, stroke and heart attack have been reported by women using this relatively new form of birth control. Side effects of NuvaRing are associated with the hormone desogestrel which can cause changes in the blood clotting system allowing blood clots to form more easily. NuvaRing birth control was approved by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) on October 3, 2001 and first marketed in the United States in July 2002. Nuva Ring is used by approximately 1.5 million women worldwide.
NuvaRing is a flexible polyethylene vinyl acetate ring around 2 inches in diameter. Nuva Ring is considered a third generation combination hormonal contraceptive. It contains a combination of the hormones estrogen and etonogestrel which is a synthetic form of the progestin desogestrel. NuvaRing uses a different form of progestin compared to older contraceptives. Third generation contraceptives containing desogestrel have recently come under fire due to the increased risk of blood clots (venous thrombosis). The newer progestins (desogestrel) in third generation contraceptives were intended to lessen the adverse effects caused by older contraceptives such as hirsutism, weight gain, and acne.
Combination hormonal contraceptives contain both estrogen and progestins. NuvaRing contains the progestin desogestrel which, according to studies going back to 1995, doubles the risk of blood clots compared to second generation oral contraceptives. Organon, the manufacturer of NuvaRing is aware of the increased risk of blood clots associated with third generation oral contraceptives. The NuvaRing warning label states:
The hormones in NuvaRing® may cause changes in your blood clotting system which may allow your blood to clot more easily. If blood clots form in your legs, they can travel to the lungs and cause a sudden blockage of a vessel carrying blood to the lungs. Rarely, clots occur in the blood vessels of the eye and may cause blindness, double vision, or other vision problems. The risk of getting blood clots may be greater with the type of progestin in NuvaRing® than with some other progestins in certain low-dose birth control pills. It is unknown if the risk of blood clots is different with NuvaRing® use than with the use of certain birth control pills.
The side effects of Nuva Ring can increase depending on several risk factors. Increased risk factors include: women over age 35, smoking more than 15 cigarettes a day, diabetes, and high levels of blood cholesterol or fat. Warning signs of potentially more serious NuvaRing side effects include:
• sharp chest pain, coughing blood, or sudden shortness of breath (possible clot in the lung)
• pain in the calf (back of lower leg – possible clot in the leg)
• crushing chest pain or heaviness in the chest (possible heart attack)
• sudden severe headache or vomiting, dizziness, or fainting, problems with vision or speech, weakness, or numbness in an arm or leg (possible stroke)
• sudden partial or complete loss of vision (possible clot in the eye)
Currently there are no non-industry sponsored studies showing that third generation contraceptives such as NuvaRing are more effective when compared to second generation contraceptives especially given the increased risk of blood clots associated with desogestrel.