Birth Control Ring

The Birth Control Ring is a bendable insert that stays in your vagina for 3 weeks to prevent pregnancy. Learn about the vaginal contraceptive ring here.
Birth Control Ring


The ring is a small, bendable insert that stays in your vagina. You leave it in for three weeks at a time and take it out for the fourth week. The ring prevents pregnancy in two ways. It releases hormones that prevent ovaries from releasing eggs, and it thickens your cervical mucus to block sperm from getting to the egg in the first place.

Quick Facts

  • Easy to insert
  • Keeps you protected from pregnancy for one month at a time
  • Effectiveness: With perfect use, 99 in every 100 women will prevent pregnancy. With typical use, or the way most people use it, the ring prevents pregnancy in 91 out of 100 women who use it.”
  • Side effects: the most common effects are irregular bleeding,increase in normal vaginal discharge, breasts tenderness, or nausea. These are also usually temporary
  • Effort: moderate. Insert ring. Wait 3 weeks. Remove ring. Wait 1 week. Repeat.
  • Doesn’t protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).


Requires relatively little effort each month. If you are scared of needles, or you are the kind of person who has trouble remembering to take a pill every day, the ring might be a good option. You only need to remember to do something twice a month.

You should be comfortable with your body. If you are not okay with putting your fingers inside yourself, the ring probably is not the best option for you. It is a lot like putting in a tampon. If you can do that, you can learn to use the ring.

You can skip your period. The ring allows you the option to skip your period altogether, and this is 100% safe.

Storage and privacy. If you have extra rings, they can be stored at room temperature between 68°F to 77°F (20°C to 25°C) for up to 4 months. If you will have them longer than 4 months, they should be kept cold. They should not be used after the expiration date. If keeping your method a secret is important, this could be a concern. Also, some partners say they can feel the ring during sex. If that is a problem, you can take the ring out during sex. If you take it out for sex, put it back within 3 hours. And only remove the ring once in 24 hours. Taking it out more often or leaving it out for more than 3 hours makes the ring less effective.

The ring delivers a lower dose of hormones. The ring has a lower dose of hormones than other contraceptive methods. There may be fewer negative side effects.

Smokers over 35 years old, be careful. For women over 35 years old, smoking while using the ring increases the risk of certain side effects. It is advised to discuss this with your medical provider.

When can I get pregnant again? You will be able to get pregnant soon after you remove the ring. If you want to get pregnant, that is great. If you want to avoid pregnancy, insert another ring or protect yourself with a different method.


How To Use

The ring is easy to use. All you need to remember is when to insert and remove the ring.

How to put it in. First, wash your hands with soap and water. Let them air dry. To put in the ring, squish it between your thumb and index finger, and insert it like a tampon. It will sit tucked up against the side of your vaginal wall. The exact position does not matter, as long as you are comfortable. You do not even need to take it out when you have sex. (It is okay if you want to take it out during sex. Just make sure to put it back in within 3 hours. And only remove it once in 24 hours) [5]

How to take it out. Once you insert the ring, leave it in for three weeks. Take it out at the beginning of the fourth week. Leave it out for a week. Then insert a new ring and start the cycle again. (To take the ring out, hook your finger on the lower edge and pull.) When the ring is out, you will probably get your period. Do not worry if you are still bleeding when it is time to put in the new ring. That is normal and your period should stop soon [6].


Tips and tricks. To insert, you choose the position most comfortable for you—for example, standing with one leg up, squatting, or lying down.  You might want to try the “twist” method, in which you twist the ring to insert it.

Side Effects

Everyone is different. What you experience may not be the same thing as another person.

The Positive: there are lots of things about the ring that are good for your body as well as your sex life [2].

  • Easy to use – it is like putting in a tampon
  • You do not need to interrupt sex to use it
  • Might give you shorter, lighter periods
  • May clear up acne
  • Can reduce menstrual cramps and premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms
  • Offers protection against some health problems: endometrial and ovarian cancer; iron deficiency anemia; ovarian cysts; and pelvic inflammatory disease

The Negative: everyone worries about negative side effects, but for many women, they are not a problem. Remember, you are introducing hormones into your body, so it can take a few months to adjust. Give it time.  Things that will probably go away after two or three months:[2]

  • Bleeding in between periods
  • Breast tenderness
  • Nausea and vomiting

Things that may last longer:

  • Increased vaginal discharge, irritation, or infection
  • A change in your desire to have sex

If you feel the side effects are more than you can accept after three months, switch methods and stay protected.   Remember, there is a method for everyone, everywhere!

*For a very small number of women, there are risks of serious side effects.


[1] Cook LA, et al. (2014). Vasectomy occlusion techniques for male sterilization (Review). John Wiley & Sons. Retrieved from
[2] Dr Marie Marie Stopes International. (2017). Contraception. Retrieved from
[3] FPA the sexual health charity. (2015). Your guide to male and female sterilisation. Retrieved from
[4] FSRH Faculty of Sexual & Reproductive Healthcare. (2014). Male and Female Sterilisation. RCOG, London. Retrieved from
[5] Patil, E., & Jensen, J. T. (2015). Update on Permanent Contraception Options for Women. Current Opinion in Obstetrics and Gynecology. Retrieved from
[6] Reproductive Health Access Project. (2018). Permanent Birth Control (Sterilization). Retrieved from
[7] RCOG Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. (2016). Female Sterilisation. Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, London. Retrieved from
[8] World Health Organization. (2016). Selected practice recommendations for contraceptive use. Geneva. Retrieved from
[9] World Health Organization Department of Reproductive Health and Research and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Center for Communication Programs (2018) Family Planning: A Global Handbook for Providers. Baltimore and Geneva. Retrieved from