The contraceptive vaginal ring is a flexible ring that you insert into your vagina yourself. If the ring is used correctly, it’s just as reliable as the pill. Another name for the vaginal ring is NuvaRing.
How does it work?
The contraceptive ring releases a small dose of hormones every day. These protect you against pregnancy for a month.
How to use it
- Keep the ring in your vagina for 3 weeks in a row.
- Remove the ring after 3 weeks. Don’t use one the next week. This is called the ‘ring-free interval’ and is when you’ll have your period. In the ring-free week you’re also protected against pregnancy.
- After the week without a ring, you put in a new ring.
Where can you get the vaginal ring?
Ask your doctor for a prescription for the vaginal ring. You can get the rings at a pharmacy.
Not a real period
In the ring-free week you’ll bleed a bit. It seems like a period and it feels like that too, but you’re not really menstruating. How does that work?
Every month there is a new egg in your uterus. This happens during ovulation. During a proper period, that egg is discarded. If you use the vaginal ring properly, you don’t ovulate. So there’s no egg to be discarded. That’s why you’re not really having a period, just a small bleed.
Are there any side effects?
When you start using a vaginal ring, you might have some side effects. That’s because your body has to get used to the hormones the ring contains. Possible side effects are:
- Irregular blood loss
- Painful breasts
- Low moods
- Weight gain
- Reduced sex drive
Usually, the side effects disappear after a couple of months. If you’re having trouble with side effects, get in touch with your doctor.
Advantages and disadvantages
- You only have to think about it twice a month.
- You know when you’ll have your period.
- You can postpone the bleed.
- Vomiting or diarrhea do not affect its reliability.
- The ring is invisible.
- Sometimes you may have side effects.
- You could forget to insert a new ring after 4 weeks.
- The ring doesn’t protect against STIs.
- A slightly higher risk (in comparison with the pill) of serious side effects such as blood clots.
- If you don’t like touching your vagina, the ring may not be the right choice for you.