The NuvaRing is actually one of the more interesting reproductive options available on the current market. No, it doesn't fit "around" the mouth of your vulva or anything like that; the ring shape sits flat inside the vagina, held in place by the muscles of the vaginal walls. Even better? You can wear the NuvaRing while you have penetrative sex. But myths about what having intercourse with the NuvaRing inside you is like seem to abound: will it fall out? Mysteriously slip on top of the head of a penis and cut off circulation? Be pushed so far into the reproductive system it needs to be retrieved by an enterprising surgeon?
The answer to these questions is, in order: possibly, no, and that's anatomically impossible. But sticking something up you and then having penetrative sex may seem like a risky procedure, so let's do some myth-dispelling to make sure that, if you want to go with the NuvaRing as your contraceptive method of choice, you can make the best sexual decisions.
Obviously, the NuvaRing, being hormonal contraception, does not protect against STDs. But there are other things about having penetrative sex with a partner while wearing a NuvaRing that you may not know, so let's do a bit of sexual education.
1. It's Not Actually Going To Be Felt By Your Partner
Having something inside you while being penetrated by a toy, fingers, or genitals may seem like a way to make sex awkward as hell, but it turns out that, in many cases, the NuvaRing goes undetected by people with penises. A 2004 study found that 72 percent of men studied "rarely or never" felt the ring while having sex with their female partner, 87 percent didn't feel it move, and 92 percent reported no change in sensation of any kind while their partner was wearing a NuvaRing.
2. ... And It Probably Won't Be Felt By You, Either
While it's a bit more likely you might feel your NuvaRing during sex, it's still pretty unusual. Another study in 2005 had found that 89 percent of women didn't feel the NuvaRing at all during penetration, 10 percent felt it "occasionally," and only one percent felt it permanently in sex. So if studies are to be believed, it's likely that your sex will go off without a hitch. (And no, there are no realistic reports of NuvaRings "catching" on genitals.)
3. You Can Actually Take It Out While You've Having Sex — Briefly
Here's the crucial thing to remember about the NuvaRing if, despite assurances, you're still uncertain about the sensation and safety of having penetrative sex with it inserted: it can be removed for up to three hours.
"The ring may be removed for up to 3 hours without loss of efficacy," a review of the NuvaRing in 2010 pointed out. "If the ring has been removed for more than this time during the first or second week of use, backup contraception is required." This "safety net" is a necessary thing, because its status as a free object (i.e. it's not attached to anything inside the body) means that it is at risk of coming out, so it's sensible for the makers to have built in something to keep you protected until it's back in.
This is important if you're in a position where sex may be more uncomfortable with it in, if you're using a toy that may cause damage to it, or if for whatever reason you'd rather not use it in a sexual context. (Always remember to use a condom or dental dam to protect against STDs when it's out or in.)
There's something crucial to remember here, though: Before you put it back in, you need to wash it, but only in cold or warm water. Do not wash it in boiling water, as that risks damaging it and reducing its efficacy; it seems counter-productive, but I promise, it's what the manufacturer recommends, and you want it functioning at optimum strength.
4. The NuvaRing Is More Likely To Fall Out Than Get Pushed In
The NuvaRing is specifically designed so it won't get "lost up there". (Honestly; it's not like a cavern or a labyrinth, it's a reproductive system.) The NuvaRing tends to be held in place by the muscles in the vagina, and if it drifts upward or you place it high, the cervix will prevent it from going any further into your system. It won't randomly turn up in your stomach or lungs.
The much more likely scenario? A falling-out situation, either after sex (when something is removed), when a tampon is replaced, or when you're straining over a toilet for whatever reason. This is why it's critical, in the period after sex, to check your NuvaRing's placement and whether it's still there. If you can't find it, it's almost definitely fallen out rather than wandered somewhere mysterious, and you'll need to find a replacement within three hours.
The bottom line? Sex with a NuvaRing isn't going to be nearly as sci-fi as you might have been anticipating. And no, it will not leap out with a spring and hit your partner in the face like a snapped rubber band. (At least I hope not.)
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