The contraceptive ring is a flexible, plastic device in the shape of a ring which is inserted into the vagina and releases the hormones, oestrogen and progestogen, to prevent unwanted pregnancies. Also known as vaginal ring, it is more than 99% effective if used correctly. The ring is inserted once every four weeks and provides protection for those 4 weeks.
As well as protecting against pregnancy, the contraceptive ring can reduce premenstrual symptoms, help with acne, and for some women it is a more convenient contraceptive method than the pill. This method works in the same way as the pill in that it is in place for 21 days and there is a 7-day ring-free break, however, you only need to remember to use it once a month. NuvaRing is a contraceptive ring available to buy at Doctor-4-U.
“Many women feel that the pill is their only option of contraception, and for some women the pill is not suitable. The contraceptive ring works in a similar way to the pill but is a device that is inserted into the vagina just once a month. It is more than 99% effective at preventing pregnancy and for some women it makes contraception less of a hassle. It’s important to remember that the contraceptive ring does not protect against STIs and you should still use condoms for this reason.”
What is a contraceptive ring and how does it work?
A contraceptive ring, otherwise known as a vaginal ring is a device used to prevent pregnancy. The ring is inserted into the vagina, it is soft and plastic and should not cause discomfort. The ring does not act as a barrier against sperm, instead it works by releasing oestrogen and progestogen hormones into the body to stop the release of an egg, it also makes it difficult for an egg to be fertilised as it thickens the cervical mucus so the sperm cannot move through the cervix to reach the egg. With the ring in place it’s also difficult for a fertilised egg to implant as the hormones thin the lining of the womb.
The contraceptive ring is an alternative method if the pill is not suitable and it works in a similar way. Like the pill it’s used for 21 days with a 7-day break, and you’re protected against pregnancy during this break. One ring is inserted into the vagina and this stays in for 21 days and provides you with protection for one month. The vaginal ring is an effective and beneficial contraceptive method for many women if used correctly.
Who can and can’t use the vaginal ring?
Suitability for the vaginal ring is similar to that of the pill. Not everyone is suitable for this method of contraception. Generally if you’re healthy and have no health conditions the vaginal ring is safe for you to use. However, some groups of people should be cautious of the vaginal ring as it may cause them problems. The vaginal ring may not be suitable for women who:
- Are 35 years old or over and smoke or stopped smoking for less than a year
- Have a history of a blood clot in a vein or artery
- Have or have had heart disease or stroke
- Take medications which interact with the ring
- Are breastfeeding
- Have migraine aura
- Have diabetes complications
- Have or have had breast cancer
You should speak to your doctor about your suitability for this contraceptive method to discuss whether your medication or health condition will not be affected by the contraceptive ring.
What are the benefits of the vaginal ring?
Preventing unwanted pregnancies is not the only advantage of using a vaginal ring. Contraception is its primary use and if used correctly it’s more than 99% effective. Despite the positioning of the ring it does not interrupt sex, you can have sex with the ring in place. Many people find the vaginal ring to be the best form of contraception if remembering to take a pill everyday is not possible as you only have to remember to use the ring once a month. Plus, unlike the pill its effectiveness isn’t disrupted if you were to vomit or have diarrhoea.
Another huge benefit of using this type of contraception is the effect it can have on menstruation. Many women find that the vaginal ring eases premenstrual symptoms, you may experience less menstrual cramps, and bleeding that is more regular and lighter.
Are there any risks?
All methods of contraception have their risks, but the benefits outweigh the risks. The risk of blood clots caused by the pill and the contraceptive ring is well known as it’s important to be aware of as blood clots in the veins or arteries can cause a heart attack or stroke. This is why you should not use the vaginal ring if you’ve ever had a blood clot in the past or if you’re at a high risk of blood clots. However, blood clots are rare and the risk is very small, but it is something you should discuss with a doctor or nurse before starting this contraception.
It’s also been suggested that those who take hormonal contraception long term have an increased risk in developing breast or cervical cancer. This is something your doctor will be able to discuss with you.
In most cases, the benefits far outweigh the risks.
How to use the contraceptive ring?
Some women may be put off this contraceptive method as they may feel that it is invasive and are worried about place it in and taking it out correctly. The vaginal ring is easy to use and should not cause any discomfort or pain. When inserting and taking the ring out you should always have clean hands. To insert use your finger and thumb to squeeze the ring and push into your vagina until it feels comfortable. Don’t worry about the ring being in an exact position. You shouldn’t be able to feel the ring and it should be comfortable when it’s inside you, this is how you will know that you’ve inserted it correctly.
If you’re struggling to remove the ring see a doctor or nurse straight away, there is no chance of it getting lost but a doctor or nurse can help you to remove it.
You should also tell your nurse or doctor if you’re experiencing pain or bleeding when inserting or removing the ring.
What happens if you forget to put a new ring in?
If after the 7-day break you forget to put a new ring in, you should put a new one in as soon as you remember and use additional contraception such as condoms for 7 days. If you’re in doubt about whether you’ve been using the ring correctly you may need emergency contraception. Using a condom each time you have sex will provide extra protection against pregnancy and STIs and the vaginal ring cannot protect you from these infections.
There’s a possibility that the ring may come out accidently if it isn’t correctly in place or during sex. If the ring has been out for less than 3 hours it’s perfectly fine to re-insert the same ring as long as it has been cleaned with cool water and you will still be protected from pregnancy. If it’s been more than 3 hours, again, you can re-insert the same ring but you may need additional contraception fro 7 days. This is all dependant on how long into the month you are, if it’s been in for 3 weeks and has accidently come out you may need to insert a new ring. Discuss with your doctor or nurse what you should do next if your ring has come out.
Where to get the contraceptive ring?
The contraceptive ring is readily available at contraceptive clinics, sexual health clinics, your GP surgery or online at Doctor-4-U. Buying online makes getting access to contraception convenient and fast. If taking time out for an appointment at your GP surgery is not possible, ordering your contraceptive ring from Doctor-4-U at time that suits you means you don’t miss that all-important contraception. You can buy NuvaRing online at Doctor-4-U simply by filling out a medical questionnaire so we can ensure the product is safe for you to use and if so it will be sent to you via a secure, tracked courier service.