A new systematic review from Family Health International analyzes a host of studies comparing the contraceptive skin patch, or vaginal ring, to the pill and finds that perfection remains elusive.
Lead investigator, Laureen Lopez, said that women using the patch were more likely to use the medication as prescribed than those on the pill were. However, patch users experienced more side effects and were more likely to abandon their method eventually than pill users were.
Ring users generally had fewer serious side effects than pill users, but had more vaginal irritation and discharge. Despite this, vaginal ring users tended to stick with their approach longer than the pill group.
Compared with pill users, patch users had more bleeding breakthroughs, breast discomfort, painful periods, and nausea and vomiting. Rings users, on the other hand, had more vaginal irritation and discharge. Of the two, patch users tended to discontinue the method more readily.
"Women who used the ring had fewer bleeding problems than those on the pill, but they did have irritation," Lopez said. "But discontinuation was similar for the ring and the pill in most of the studies." Clinicians have seen the ring increase in popularity, Lopez added.
Lopez noted that women have to consider many issues when choosing a method of birth control. Ease of use, side effects and life situation are each important. For a contraceptive to be effective, the woman must be willing and able to follow the prescribed regimen.
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Source: Health Behavior News Service