- Easy to insert
- Keeps you protected from pregnancy for one month at a time
- Effectiveness: the ring is pretty effective the way most people use it. With a perfect use, 99 in every 100 women will manage to prevent pregnancy.
- Side effects: the most common effects are irregular bleeding, sore breasts, 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).
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. Like the injectable, 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.
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 to skip your period altogether, which is 100% safe.
Storage and privacy. If you have extra rings and will have some for more than 4 months, they need to be kept cold. 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.
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)
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.
Availability. Would you like to use this method? Check out the Methods in Your Country
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.
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.
- 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:
- 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.
We are here to help you. If it still does not feel right, we have ideas for other methods. Just remember: If you decide to change methods, make sure to stay protected while you switch. Condoms offer good protection while you find a method that suits your needs.
What if I do not like inserting it?
- The ring requires less effort than many other options available. But there are other effective methods that require less work.
- Still not working? If inserting something once a month is too much for you, perhaps you want to think about something you can forget about for years, like the implant or IUD.
- Try a different method: implant; IUD
What if I have a lot of vaginal discharge?
- The extra discharge you are experiencing from using the ring is probably normal. It should decrease after a few months. It may also be the ring protecting you from an infection called bacterial vaginosis.
- If you are still worried, talk with a health care provider.
- Still not working? If the discharge lasts more than a few months and you really do not like it, think about using a different method. You could try the pill, patch, or the injectable. The pill and patch are good if you want regular periods. If you do not mind an irregular or nonexistent period, then the injectable may be a good idea.
- Try a different method: patch; pill; injectable
Why does the ring keep slipping out?
- There is a chance you are not inserting the ring correctly.
- Try this: use an empty tampon inserter to push it in all the way.
- Still not working? If it is still an issue, think about using a method you will not need to insert yourself. Think about injectable, implant, .
You have a very low risk of blood clots while using the ring. There are some genetic and medical conditions that increase your risk of blood clots though. If you are worried, check with the person giving you the contraceptive to see if the ring is the best option for you.
What if my partner says he can feel the ring when we have sex?
- You can always pull the ring out right before you have sex. Just be sure to rinse it with clean water and put it back in within 3 hours. And only do that once within a 24-hour period.
- Still not working? If you want a method that you do not have to remember daily, you will not have to remove during sex, and that your partner will not feel during penetration, you might want to go with the implant, injectable, or patch.
- Try a different method: implant; patch; injectable
Is the ring bad for the environment because of the hormones in female urine?
- Any method is better than no method when it comes to the environment.
- Some of the hormones from the ring will enter the environment through a woman’s urine. But it is smaller than other sources of estrogen in the environment.
- Estrogen from industrial and manufacturing processes, fertilizers and pesticides, and the drugs given to animals all enter the environment in larger amounts than the estrogen in a woman’s urine from the ring.
- If you do not want to add hormones to the environment or your body, there are options for you. Natural latex condoms and the copper IUD are both good options. Whatever you decide, pick a method and keep using it.
- Still not working? If would like to use a very effective method without any hormones, try the non-hormonal IUD.
Is there a risk in using tampons or a menstrual cup with the ring?
- Tampons and menstrual cups do not interfere with the ring preventing pregnancy. If your ring is in when you remove your tampon or cup, you might pull it out a bit. This may be annoying if it happens a lot.
- When inserting your tampon or cup, make sure that your ring is all the way in first. Then position the tampon or cup afterwards. If you do end up pulling the ring out, you can rinse it in clean water and put it back in immediately.
- If this happens a lot and you do not like it, but want to keep using the ring, then try using sanitary pads.