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Do we have to use condoms AND the nuva ring?

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Jane asks:

I've been using the Nuvaring for about two months now, and about a week after I started it my boyfriend and I had vaginal intercourse (we waited until I was taking birth control to have sex, just in case). We've been doing it since then, and always with a condom (again, just in case). Neither I nor my boyfriend want me to get pregnant at all since it just doesn't fit in with our plans, so we are trying to be as careful as is necessary. What I want to know is whether or not it is actually necessary to use a condom while using the Nuvaring in order to be protected. We don't want to take any unnecessary risks, however if we don't need a condom, then it would be great if we didn't have to use it!

Also, would you advise me to take at home pregnancy tests? And if so, how often, and what names/brands would you recommend as being accurate?

Thanks so much for your help!

Hollie replies:

The NuvaRing is a HIGHLY effective method of birth control. As you'll see here, the NuvaRing has only a 2% failure rate with typical use. This is quite a bit lower than the birth control pill (8%) and the male condom (15%).

The real question is how much of a risk you and your partner are comfortable taking. If you are uncomfortable with even a 2% failure rate, by all means, continue to use the condoms. They're cheap and easy to use, and definitely worth the peace of mind. If you haven't already, you and your partner also need to discuss what would happen in case of accidental pregnancy. Are you prepared (financially, emotionally, etc) for the possibility?

The one thing to keep in mind is that the NuvaRing does not protect against sexually transmitted infections. Unless and until you and your partner have both been tested, twice (six months apart) and are completely monogomous, condoms are still your best bet.

The only time I would advise anyone to take a pregnancy test is if they have had a significant risk (unprotected sex) or are late for a period. If you're using the NuvaRing correctly, this is not a signifcant risk, by any means!
If you remove your NuvaRing for your withdrawal bleed week (like a period, but caused by the withdrawal of hormones) and you don't get it, I would suggest you take a pregnancy test before you put the new ring in. If you get a negative, you can go ahead and insert the new ring.

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