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Could birth control pills be used vaginally when there are undesirable side-effects? #920/10

I've read in various women's health magazines and on the Internet that it is effective and safe to insert birth control pills vaginally, if there are undesirable side-effects.  It states that women who do so have fewer side-effects than women who take pills orally.

Obviously, we now have the ring on the market so there's now some research available that I can pull up, but the ring only comes in one formulation and is considerably more expensive., So, I was curious if one might use their current, well-tolerated pill vaginally either during bouts of gastrointestinal illness or routinely to minimize nausea and breakthrough bleeding without affecting pregnancy protection.

Thank you for your time!

Vaginal placement of birth control pills has been tried, but only with high dose pills and for this reason vaginal placement is not feasible in the United States (as most clinicians will not prescribe 50 microgram pills and 50 mcg pills are very, very expensive)


Another way to eliminate or decrease nausea and/or vomiting is to take a low dose (20 mcg) pill CONTINUOUSLY. This elimination of fluctuations in hormones a woman is receiving may be very helpful.


As you suggest, vaginal placement of pills may be beneficial for some women who develop accute short-term nausea or vomiting if pills are taken orally during bouts of gastrointestinal illness.



Please do let us know what you decide to do and what happens.



To learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of all available contraceptives, go to our website at: www.managingcontraception.com and click on Choices.  You can also order this wonderful new educational book from our website or by calling 404-875-5001.

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Key Words:  health magazines, internet, effective, safe, insert, birth control pills, vaginally, side-effects, orally, rings, research, expensive, gastrointestinal illness, nausea, breakthrough bleeding, pregnancy protection, vaginal placement, high dose, vomiting, continuously, hormones

Posted 10-10-2010, Updated 10-17-2010, Updated 10-23-2010

Robert A. Hatcher MD, MPH
Emeritus Professor of Gynecology and Obstetrics
Emory University School of Medicine
Atlanta, GA

The directors and owners of this website and any publications and information concerning health matters offered here advise a person with a particular problem to consult a primary-care clinician or a specialist in obstetrics, gynecology, or urology (depending on the problem or the contraceptive) as well as the product package insert and other references before diagnosing, managing, or treating the problem.
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