Jenn here back with another post about another new type of birth control! It’s exciting to be living in a time where new birth control options are being created regularly, giving people more agency over their fertility and more options to find something that suits them. What a time to be alive!!
What is Annovera?
I’m here today to tell you about Annovera. Annovera is a hormonal birth control ring that prevents pregnancy for up to one year. Annovera is a birth control ring that contains the hormones ethinyl estradiol and segesterone (a new type of progestin for birth control). The ring is inserted into the vagina by the wearer, kept in place for three weeks, then removed for one week. After the ring is out for seven days, you put the same ring back in place, and wear for twenty-one days, then repeat the cycle next month. This one ring can be used for one year.
Annovera does need to be prescribed by a healthcare provider, but because you insert and take it out at home, once you have the prescription you can start or stop taking it at any point, although your first insertion when you begin should be between days two and five of your period so it can sync up with your body. Annovera is covered by most insurance companies. Annovera is different from other birth control rings such as NuvaRing because you use one ring for a whole year, or 13 menstrual cycles. NuvaRing and other rings in the past provide a new ring each month.
How does insertion work?
Using Annovera sounds simple enough. Once you get the ring, wash it with warm water and antibacterial soap. Dry it off, then you’re ready to insert! Annovera is made from silicone, which is body-safe, and the website continuously describes it as “soft and squishy,” so like, it must be comfortable. To insert, pinch the ring together with your thumb and pointer finger (it is the size of a tampon in this position), lie on your back, squat, or stand with one leg up, then slowly push the ring into your vagina as far up as possible.
Once inserted, you shouldn’t be able to feel it. Leave it in place for 21 days, then remove it for seven. To take it out, assume the position you did to insert it, put your pointer finger in your vagina until you feel the ring, then gently pull it out. Wash it, dry it, and store it in the provided case for seven days while you have your period. Reinsert for your next cycle.
Annovera is designed to be kept in at all times for those 21 days, including during sex. Because it’s fairly small and flexible, you shouldn’t feel it during sex, and neither should your partner. If Annovera falls out for any reason, be sure to reinsert it within two hours of it being out, otherwise it is no longer effective. You’d have to wear it for seven days for your body to readjust to it. Similarly, if you have Annovera out for a total of two hours throughout a day, you would need to use another method of birth control because it wouldn’t be effective. To be quiiiite honest, it’s made of super flexible silicone, and most sex toys are also made of silicone, so I’m guessing you won’t even notice it’s in there during intercourse.
What is the failure rate of Annovera?
The ring is 97% effective with a perfect use failure rate, which is almost identical to the hormonal birth control pill. Because you leave the ring in for three weeks once it’s inserted, it would be quite easy to have a perfect use rate because you kind of set it and forget it. Annovera also has an app that accompanies it for you to track your cycle and help remind you to put it back in after seven days, which I think is a fabulous idea.
People often complain that with the pill you have to be on top of taking it regularly, but a plus side of that is you get in the habit of taking it every single day. With something like a ring that you only remove every three weeks and must remember to put back in place, it might be easy to forget when it was removed or put it back in late. The app is a perfect way to keep you on top of your birth control ring so there’s no forgetting.
Are there any side effects?
So now the not so fun part – side effects. Like many hormonal birth control methods, Annovera does not protect against STDs, so you would either want to make sure you and your partner(s) have all been tested and know their status, or you could use the ring with a barrier method such as a penile condom. The Annovera website warns in big, bold print on the front page of their site to not use this birth control if you smoke cigarettes and are over 35 years old because you are at a greater risk of heart or blood problems, which is a common warning for nearly every hormonal birth control method.
Similar to other hormonal contraceptives, Annovera could increase risk of blood clots, stroke, heart attack, and is dangerous for users with high blood pressure, diabetes for more than 20 years, suffers from serious migraines, and some other specific conditions. Check out the full list of risks on their website. Although these risks sound intense, and they certainly can be, these are all common for hormonal birth control options, so it is essential you discuss with your healthcare provider your interest in this or any other hormonal birth control before you begin. More mild side effects are also typical of hormonal birth control and can include nausea, headache, yeast infections, painful periods, UTIs, and genital itching.
How do I start Annovera?
There’s also info on their site about how you can get a prescription for Annovera through some online health care providers who will just write you a prescription for it, then have it delivered to your door. Sounds cute and convenient, right? I would strongly encourage you to resist this urge for convenience and schedule an in-person visit with your gynecologist before starting this or any other type of hormonal birth control.
Although it is fabulous you are in control of inserting it and taking it out each month, giving you full agency and control, you should still talk with your doctor to fully assess if it is safe for you to use, see if there aren’t any other birth control options that might work better for your body, and to get the low down on how to use this product so you get that sweet, sweet 97% perfect use rate each month.
Plus each ring lasts a year, so you’d only have to visit once in person. After the year is up, you would get a prescription for a new ring. If you think Annovera and the convenience of having birth control set for a year sounds right for you, contact your doctor! Check out more info on the Annovera website.