- The ring is a small, bendable contraceptive ring that you insert into your vagina.
- The ring stays in your vagina for three weeks, and then it is removed in the fourth week. After the fourth week, insert a new ring!
- The ring works as a contraceptive by giving off hormones that prevent your ovaries from releasing eggs.
- The hormones also thicken your cervical mucus, which helps to block sperm from getting to the egg in the first place.
First off, wash your hands. Then, after removing the ring from the packaging, squish the ring between your thumb and index finger, and insert it into your vagina like a tampon. It’ll sit tucked up against the side of your vaginal wall. The exact position does not really matter, as long as you are comfortable. You do not need to take it out when you are having sex. (But if you want to take it out during sex that is cool, too. Just make sure to put it back in within three hours, and do this only once in every 24 hours.)
Once you insert the ring, leave it in for three weeks. Take it out for the entire fourth 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. Simple as that.) It is helpful to mark the dates of the end of the third and fourth week on your calendar so you know when to remove the ring and when to put in a new one.
When the ring is out, you will probably get your period. If you are still bleeding when it is time to put the ring back in, do not worry, put it in! That is totally normal.
With normal use, about 9 out of 100 women will get pregnant each year when they are using the ring.
Most women can use the ring safely. If you are over the age of 35 and smoke cigarettes, it is not recommended that you use the ring because of certain dangerous side effects, like increased risk of getting a blood clot.
- It is easy to use—just like putting in a tampon.
- It does not interrupt the heat of the sexual moment.
- It might give you shorter, lighter periods.
- It may clear up pimples.
- It can reduce menstrual cramps and Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS).
- It offers protection against some nasty health problems, like endometrial and ovarian cancer, iron deficiency anemia, ovarian cysts, and pelvic inflammatory diseases (PID).
The following are side effects 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 sex drive
If you still feel uncomfortable after three months, talk to your healthcare provider about switching methods and stay protected!
It is pretty common for women to make a mistake at some time when using the vaginal ring.
If you use the ring, the key to protecting yourself from an unplanned pregnancy is knowing what to do if you make a mistake or if the ring slips out of your vagina.
Pregnancy can happen if:
- The ring slips out of your vagina and is not replaced within 48 hours
- The ring does not stay in your vagina for three weeks in a row
- The ring is left in your vagina for more than a month
- You forget to insert a new ring more than a week after taking out the previous ring
Here are some general instructions if any of these things happen to you. Talk with your healthcare provider for more information.
- Wash the ring with lukewarm or cool water and put it back in as soon as possible.
- Use a backup method of birth control for seven days if the ring is out of your vagina for more than 48 hours.
Up to a month after insertion:
- Remove the ring.
- Take a ring-free week.
- Insert a new ring after the ring-free week.
More than a month after insertion:
- Remove the ring.
- You may have become pregnant if you had vaginal intercourse more than a month after you inserted the ring. You may want to take a pregnancy test.
- When you restart with a new ring, use backup birth control (like a condom) for seven days.
Most women are able to become pregnant within a few months of taking out the ring, while some women are able to become pregnant within a few weeks.