If you’re wondering how the manufacturer of the NuvaRing was allowed to formulate and sell a contraceptive with known high-risk hormone levels, you’re not alone.
The NuvaRing is a prescription birth control device designed to prevent pregnancy through the controlled release of estrogen and progesterone hormones into the bloodstream. Women manually insert the small, flexible vaginal ring once a month for three weeks to prevent conception. Approved by the FDA in 2001, the NuvaRing has been one of the most popular forms of birth control devices, with over a million women throughout the U.S. using the contraception.
Unfortunately, what was marketed by Organon and later bought by Merck (formerly Schering-Plough Corp.) as a safe and simple birth control device has since been linked to serious side effects. The main culprit is the NuvaRing’s third-generation desogestrel progestin component known as etonogestrel, which at high levels delivered directly into the bloodstream can cause dangerous blood clotting issues and related health conditions. Side effects from this NuvaRing hormone may include:
- Blood clots
- Cardiovascular accidents
- Cerebral hemorrhaging
- Heart attacks
- Myocardial infarction
- Pulmonary embolism
Since 1995, studies have revealed that birth control containing desogestrel caused an elevated risk for dangerous blood clots compared to previous forms using other types of progestins.
In October 2003, The New England Journal of Medicine addressed research suggesting that birth control containing desogestrel can significantly increase the risk of blood clots.
Additionally, in 2011 the FDA released its new drug-safety study report, Combined Hormonal Contraceptives (CHCs) and the Risk of Cardiovascular Disease Endpoints’, which included the NuvaRing.
The FDA study found that the NuvaRing was associated with a significantly higher risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE) relative to standard low-dose estrogen birth control pills. It went on to state that continuous exposure to combined hormonal contraceptives such as the NuvaRing could potentially result in higher sustained exposure to estrogen and hence, increased thromboembolic risk.