On Friday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Annovera, which the organization states is “the first vaginal ring contraceptive that can be used for an entire year.”
The ring, developed by the global nonprofit research organization the Population Council, is soft, flexible and nonbiodegradable. It works much like other rings on the market, i.e., it is placed inside the vagina, where it releases hormones like progestin and estrogen. However, what sets Annovera apart from other vaginal birth control devices is its lifespan: Annovera can be reinserted after the “withdrawal” week, making it reusable.
The FDA release explained that Annovera is “placed in the vagina for three weeks followed by one week out of the vagina, at which time women may experience a period (a withdrawal bleed). This schedule is [then] repeated every four weeks for one year (thirteen 28-day menstrual cycles).”
Another key feature of Annovera is how it is stored when it is not in use. According to the Population Council, the product "does not require refrigeration, which is particularly important for distribution and use in low-resource settings.” What's more, Annovera does not require a monthly trip to the pharmacy (or a monthly prescription from your doctor) — making it a more economical and convenient choice.
That said, as with other many other forms of birth control, there are some people who should avoid using Annovera — for example, steer clear if you have (or have had) certain medical conditions like tumors, breast cancer and/or abnormal uterine bleeding. You should also avoid this product if you’re a smoker and over the age of 35 and, according to the FDA, everyone should be mindful that taking Annovera can cause numerous side effects or symptoms, including headache/migraine, nausea/vomiting, yeast infections, abdominal pain, dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation), breast tenderness, irregular bleeding, diarrhea and genital itching.
Annovera will be available for purchase in 2019 or 2020.