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Wednesday, 14 March, 2001, 17:24 GMT
Contraceptive ring 'as good as Pill'
Egg in the fallopian tube
Human egg: new contraceptive could prevent fertilisation
A revolutionary "contraceptive ring" could be as effective - and safer - than the Pill, say scientists.

The flexible plastic ring, which is inserted into the vagina each month, fits round the cervix.

It is about two inches in diameter and is folded before use and can be inserted and removed by the women using it themselves.

This is likely to make it far more appealing to women than an implant, which could last for up to five years and need to be removed should a woman wish to fall pregnant.

It leads to less complaints, better bleeding patterns and the total daily dose is less than when using the pill

Mr Frans Roumen, a gynaecologist in the Netherlands

Users keep the ring in for three weeks, followed by a one week menstruation period - but manufacturers say it could in future be used to stop periods altogether.

It then releases a steady flow of hormones progestogen and oestrogen to prevent the user conceiving.

Conceptions low

Dutch researchers who studied the ring found it had a high success rate - only six women out of 1,145 conceived after using it.

Mr Frans Roumen, a gynaecologist at the Atrium Medisch Centrum in Heerlen, in the Netherlands, said his studies, published in the journal Human Reproduction showed it to be as effective as oral contraceptives.

"The results are very promising indeed."

He added that the low doses of hormones would make the Nuvaring particularly popular.

He said: "The ring releases hormones continuously through the vaginal mucus, which is completely different from using a pill which produces an initial increase in hormones and then a decrease.

"It leads to less complaints, better bleeding patterns and the total daily dose is less than when using the pill."

Manufacturers Organon plan to launch the Nuvaring in the US later this year, following on with a European launch once marketing approval is agreed.

Vaginal rings are also being developed for other treatments.

Northern Ireland drug company Galen Holdings plan to launch a ring for delivering hormone replacement therapy in Britain over the next few months.

The Family Planning Association said the new contraceptive was good news and would help a number of women.

A spokeswoman said: "It is great news it is a very exciting development and it will be suitable for many women.

"We look forward to it becoming available in the UK."

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08 Mar 01 | Health
Contraception fails UK youth
10 Feb 01 | Health
Men 'shun' male pill
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