A new option for Indian women - the vaginal ring

Updated: Mar 17, 2010, 00:00 AM IST

Kolkata: For women who often forget to take their oral contraceptives amid busy schedules, doctors say the vaginal ring should come in handy. Promising negligible chances of pregnancy, it arrived in India about three months ago.

Doctors say the product gives women the same benefit as oral contraception minus the effect of the pills on the liver. It is a medicated ring that releases certain hormones.

"Worldwide acceptance of the vaginal ring is high, but it`s very new in India, only three months old," Ratnabali Chakraborty, gynaecologist and obstetrician at the Institute of Laparoscopic Surgery, Bellevue Clinic, told IANS.

Chakraborty said the soft and transparent ring, inserted inside the vagina, can stay within for three weeks, after which it has to be taken out. It uses the same combination of hormones as the pill but in a different way.

She claimed there was zero percent chance of pregnancy with the vaginal ring. "It is a non-irritant and delivers a very small quantity of hormones," she said.

In India, where an increasing number of women want to plan out their marriages and children, the use of contraceptive methods has gone up.

The most popular methods of contraception used by women in developing countries are female sterilisation, oral contraceptives, injectibles and intra-uterine devices. The vaginal ring adds to this list.

"This gives a choice of contraception to women. Nowadays, women like to know fully about the product before they use it," said Kushaghra Ghosh, consultant physician in Kolkata`s Woodlands nursing home.

The vaginal ring uses the same combination of hormones as the pill but in a different way.

"The liver bears the brunt of the first pass effect of any hormone, but this new procedure will spare the liver...it has the combination of the same hormones but is used in a different way," he said.

"It is best suited for working women and especially for those whose working hours are not very regular like women working in BPOs or as air hostesses," he said.

The ring is not sold over the counter yet.

Ghosh said one does not need to go to the doctor to insert it. It can be inserted by a woman herself and has the least chance of coming out as it is sticky in nature.

However, the price may be an issue. One ring costs Rs.800 per month, whereas for oral contraceptives one needs to shell out only Rs.200 a month.