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Contraception health centre

Vaginal ring

What is the vaginal ring?

The vaginal ring is a contraceptive option for women. It is a small flexible plastic ring, about 4mm thick and 5.5cm in diameter.

How does the vaginal ring work?

The vaginal ring contains the same hormones as many contraceptive pills. It is inserted manually into the vagina on the first day of a woman’s period, where it is left for 21 days. Once in place, a continuous, low dose of hormones is released.

After 21 days it should be removed and disposed of in a bin using a special disposal bag.

No ring is then used for seven days. This is the week you will have your period. After that, a new ring is inserted for the next 21 days.

If the ring comes out on its own, such as during sex or when constipated, rinse it in warm water and replace it as soon as possible. Provided it is replaced within 3 hours a woman is still protected against pregnancy.

If it stays out for more than three hours, talk to your doctor or nurse about the risk of pregnancy.

How effective is the vaginal ring?

When used correctly, the vaginal ring is more than 99% effective in preventing pregnancy.

Advantages of the vaginal ring

One vaginal ring provides a month's contraception rather than having to think of daily methods such as the Pill or remembering to use a condom before having sex.

Unlike the pill, the vaginal ring is not made less effective by any vomiting or diarrhoea.

Another advantage is the vaginal ring may help ease premenstrual symptoms with lighter and less painful bleeding.

Are there side effects associated with the vaginal ring?

The most common, often temporary, side effects of the vaginal ring are:

Who may be advised not to use the vaginal ring?

The vaginal ring may not be suitable if you:


Does the vaginal ring protect against sexually transmitted infections?

No. The vaginal ring does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). 

The male condom provides the best protection from STIs.

WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on August 09, 2016

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