The hormonal ring: a new contraceptive gains acceptance

Asian Pac Popul Programme News. 1984 Dec;13(4):39-40.


PIP: The Population Council's International Committee on Contraceptive Research has been working on an alternative hormonal contraceptive in the form of a vaginal contraceptive ring. The ring is 58 mm in diameter and consists of a core of Silastic covered by a thin layer of levonorgestrel and estradiol and an overcoat of silicone rubber. The ring is inserted into the vagina on the 5th day of the menstrual cycle and withdrawn 3 weeks later for 1 week. The contraceptive steroids are released from the Silastic at a regular rate and readily absorbed through the vagina. Thus, the blood levels of contraceptive hormones reached during the use of the ring are sufficient to prevent ovulation but do not exhibit the great daily variations commonly observed in women on oral contraceptives (OCs). There are sufficient hormones in the ring to provide 6 months of contraception. Preliminary research on Swedish and other developed country women indicates that the ring is as effective as, and safer than, OCs. The International Development REsearch Center supported a study to determine the ring's acceptability in practice. It was carried out by the National Council on Population and the Family, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and the Centre for Research on Maternal and Child Health, Campinas, Brazil. The ring was offered, along with other methods, in a number of clinics in each country where prescriptions, instruction, and follow-up were the responsibility of paramedical personnel. The study involved an observation period during which 150-200 ring acceptors in each country were to be enrolled and matched with OC users. Findings indicated that ring users were slightly older than OC acceptors and that they and their partners tended to have more education. 10% of ring users complained of difficulty associated with insertion, 20% of difficulty with removal. 43% worried about correct placement. Twice as many ring users reported menstrual problems, but a larger percentage of OC users (26%) than ring users (17%) reported having other problems, such as headaches. Regarding satisfaction with the method, a larger percentage of the ring users (17%) considered their experience "very good," but the general level of satisfaction with both methods was similar. The information obtained from the study provides important data for the final design of the new method and the instructions that will accompany it.

MeSH terms

  • Contraception Behavior*
  • Contraception*
  • Contraceptive Agents
  • Contraceptive Agents, Female*
  • Contraceptive Devices, Female*
  • Contraceptives, Oral*
  • Demography
  • Disease
  • Family Planning Services*
  • Fertility
  • Headache
  • Menstruation Disturbances
  • Neurologic Manifestations
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care*
  • Population
  • Population Dynamics
  • Research*
  • Sexual Behavior*


  • Contraceptive Agents
  • Contraceptive Agents, Female
  • Contraceptives, Oral