Vaginal ring

What is vaginal ring

What is it?

A flexible ring that is placed into the vagina for three weeks before it is removed for a week, during which time you may have a period. It doesn't go as deep as a diaphragm or cap and you should still be able to feel it with your fingers. The most common type is the NuvaRing.

How does it work

How does it work?

The ring releases the hormones oestrogen and progesterone, which stop ovulation, so the ovaries don't release an egg each month. It also works by thickening mucus in the cervix, which makes it hard for sperm to pass through and fertilise an egg and the womb becomes thinner, which means if an egg were to fertilise, it couldn't attach itself to the womb.

Advantages

Advantages

Convenience. You don't have to think about it for three weeks. It may ease periods and pre-menstrual tension (PMT) and, used effectively, it is more than 98% effective.

Disadvantages

Disadvantages

Fiddly and you have to feel comfortable touching your genitalia. Possible side effects include headaches, breast pain, vaginal discharge, and blood clot. Spotting is common for the first few months and it may increase the risk of breast and cervical cancers. It has to be inserted correctly and it can fall out, although you can rinse it and put it back. You must remember to remove it after 21 days. It doesn't protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) so to have safe sex, you will still need to use condoms.

Who can use them

Who can use it?

Many women up to the age of 50. However, if you are breastfeeding, very overweight, over 35 and smoke or smoked until recently, have or had breast cancer, diabetes, heart, gallbladder or liver disease, stroke, high blood pressure, thrombosis (blood clots), migraines or are on medication, seek medical advice as the pill may not be for you.

Last updated July 31, 2018