The vaginal ring, sometimes called the NuvaRing is a soft plastic ring that you place inside your vagina. The vaginal ring releases a continuous dose of the hormones oestrogen and progestogen into you blood stream. This prevents the release of an egg each month and thickens the cervix making it harder for sperm to travel through. It also thins the lining of the womb so an egg is less likely to implant itself. The vaginal ring stays inside the vagina for 21 days, after which you take it out for 7 days before replacing it with a new one. You are still protected against pregnancy during the 7 day break.
How effective is the vaginal ring?
If used correctly, the vaginal ring is 99% effective against pregnancy. If you insert the ring on the first day of your period, it is effective immediately. If you insert it at any other time, you need to wait for seven days or use an additional form of contraception such as condoms.
Who can use a vaginal ring?
There are some women who can’t use a vaginal ring. It may not be suitable if you:
- have had a blood clot in a vein or artery
- have had heart or circulatory problems, including high blood pressure
- are 35 or older and smoke, or if you stopped smoking in the past year
- get migraines
- have had breast cancer
- have diabetes
- are overweight
- can’t hold the ring in your vagina (for example if your vaginal muscles aren’t strong enough because of giving birth)
If any of these things apply to you, then please book an appointment and come and see us. You may still be able to use a vaginal ring and if not, we can suggest some other forms of contraception that may work better for you.
Are there any side effects?
The vaginal ring may ease premenstrual symptoms and make periods less heavy or painful. Some women may have a temporary increase in vaginal discharge, sore breasts and headaches but these usually pass quite quickly. Very few women have more serious side effects, but these could be the development of a blood clot, or a slightly increased risk of breast cancer or cervical cancer.
Where can I get a vaginal ring?
You can get a vaginal ring from your nearest Devon Sexual Health clinic. We have regular drop in clinics or to avoid waiting you can book an appointment.
What happens at the clinic?
A specially trained doctor or nurse will have a chat with you about your sexual history, your health and what contraception will work best for you and your lifestyle.
Pros & Cons
- 99% effective against pregnancy
- Easy to put in and take out
- Can make periods less heavy and painful
- You don’t have to remember to put it in before sex
- It isn’t affected if you are sick – it will carry on working
- No long term effect on your fertility
- It does not protect against STIs
- It may cause temporary side effects such as moodiness, sore breasts, headaches and vaginal discharge
- You need to remember to take it out after 21 days and replace after a further 7 days
- Some medicines can stop it working