You place the ring in your vagina on the first day of your period, remove it 21 days later and throw it in the bin (not down the toilet) in a special disposal bag. Seven days after removing the ring, you insert a new one for the next 21 days.
How does it work?
The ring continually releases oestrogen and progestogen, which are synthetic versions of the hormones that are naturally released by the ovaries.
This reduces ovulation (the release of an egg). It also thickens vaginal mucus, which makes it more difficult for sperm to get through, and thins the lining of the womb so that an egg is less likely to implant there.
How effective is it?
If used correctly, the vaginal ring is more than 99% effective. This means that less than one woman out of every 100 who use the vaginal ring will become pregnant in one year.
* One ring will provide contraception for a month, so you don’t have to think about it every day.
* It doesn’t interrupt sex because you can have sex with the ring in place.
* Unlike the pill, the ring is still effective after vomiting or diarrhoea.
* The ring may ease premenstrual symptoms, and bleeding will probably be lighter and less painful.
What else should I know?
* Some women have temporary side effects, for example, more vaginal discharge, breast tenderness and headaches.
* A few women develop a blood clot (thrombosis) when using the ring, but this is rare. The ring should not be used by women who’ve had a blood clot in a vein or artery, or women who have heart or circulatory problems, including high blood pressure.
* The ring shouldn’t be used by women over 35 who smoke or who have stopped smoking in the last year, or by women who have severe migraine with aura (pre-warning symptoms), or are overweight.
* Sometimes, the ring can come out on its own (expulsion), particularly after or during sex, or when you’re constipated. If it does, rinse it in warm water and replace it as soon as possible. If it’s out for less than three hours, you’re still protected against pregnancy. If it’s out for more than three hours, talk to your doctor or nurse as you might be at risk of pregnancy.
The vaginal ring doesn’t offer protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Protect yourself against STIs by using condoms as well as the ring.