The contraceptive ring looks a lot like a cross between a bracelet and an elastic band, simple and functional – but it’s a whole lot smarter than that. It is a clear and flexible ring of polyethylene vinyl acetate that, once inserted into the vagina, slowly releases the hormones progestin and estrogen into
your body to stop the ovaries from releasing eggs. It also thickens the cervical mucus, which keeps the sperm from getting to the egg.
It stays in place for 3 weeks, and then you remove it, take a week off then pop another one in.
The ring sits up against your vaginal wall so putting it in is just the same as using a tampon, but because of its shape you might find it a little tricky, but most users swear by the pinch it and twist technique. Start by washing your hands then squeeze it between your finger and thumb and push it up inside you until it’s sitting up against the side of your vaginal wall. Once it’s in, make sure you’re comfortable with its position. You don’t even need to take it out for sex. Leave it there for 3 weeks then remove, and a week later replace with a new one. Your menstrual period should start during this ring-free week. If the ring falls out and stays out for more than 3 hours, replace it but use another method of contraception, like a condom, until the ring has been in place for 7 days in a row. Make sure you read the directions and talk to your healthcare provider about what to do.
PROS AND CONS
It´s easy to insert and to remove
It doesn’t require daily attention
It permits sexual spontaneity and doesn’t interrupt sex
It requires keeping track of the number of weeks inserted
It may cause vaginal discharge, discomfort in the vagina, and irritation
It may cause some people to suffer headaches and mood swings
It may cause disrupted periods
It may cause weight gain
Other risks are similar to oral contraceptives (combined pill)
Does not protect against HIV infection (AIDS) and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
LEARN HOW TO TALK ABOUT IT WITH:
Your healthcare provider knows the subject better than anyone; get the right answers for you
They know you better than anyone, and they’ve been through it too
You’re in this together, and not just in the bedroom, be honest
The ring can slip or accidentally come out of your vagina during sexual intercourse, bowel movements, or when removing a tampon. If the ring falls out, it should be rinsed off and replaced as soon as possible. If it has been out for less than three hours, you should still be protected against pregnancy. If it has been out for more than 3 hours, a back-up method of contraception, such as condoms, is needed for the next seven days. The ring must stay in for at least 7 more days after being out for longer than 3 hours; this may mean that you wear it for more than 21 days in total that month. Following this, a one-week ring-free interval can occur and the next ring inserted.
What do I do if the vaginal ring breaks?
The ring may break, which can cause the ring to lose its shape. If the ring stays in your vagina, this should not lower the effectiveness at preventing pregnancy. If the vaginal ring breaks and slips out of your vagina, throw the broken ring in the trash and insert a new vaginal ring.
What do I do if I forget to take the vaginal ring out?
If you leave the contraceptive ring in your vagina for up to 4 weeks (28 days) you will still be getting pregnancy protection. Remove your old vaginal ring for 1 week (7 days) and insert a new one 1 week (7 days) later.
If you leave the contraceptive ring in your vagina longer than 4 weeks (28 days), remove the ring immediately, check to make sure you are not pregnant and insert a new ring and use a back-up method of contraception for the next 7 days. You may have irregular bleeding, or no period that month.
You must use another contraceptive method, such as condoms, until the new vaginal ring has been used for 7 days in a row.
When can I start using the vaginal ring?
It is important to consult with your doctor or healthcare provider to make sure you are not pregnant before start with the vaginal ring. Talk to your doctor or healthcare provider for more details and read the patient information leaflet for basic directions on how to start using the vaginal ring.
What do I do if I forget to insert the vaginal ring after the week’s break?
Insert the ring as soon as you remember and use a back-up contraceptive method for 7 days. If you have unprotected sex after the ring has been out for more than one week, consider using emergency contraception. You should not have more than 7 days without wearing a ring this puts you at risk of getting pregnant. Talk to your doctor or healthcare provider if you are unsure.
Can the vaginal ring get lost inside of me?
No. Rest assured that once inserted in the vagina, there is no risk of the vaginal ring being pushed too far up or getting lost. There have been some reports of women accidentally inserting the vaginal ring into their bladder. If you are experiencing pain during or after insertion and you cannot find your contraceptive ring in your vagina, consult your healthcare provider right away.
Will the vaginal ring dissolve?
No. The vaginal ring is made of polyethylene vinyl acetate and therefore non-biodegradable so it will not dissolve. It releases a low dose of hormones into your body over the course of 3 weeks. After that time, you need to remove it, take a week off, and insert a new one 7 days after removal.
How do I dispose the vaginal ring?
Dispose the vaginal ring by placing the used ring in the reclosable foil pouch and properly dispose of it in a waste. Do not throw it in the toilet.
Can I use a tampon when using the vaginal ring?
Use of tampons will not reduce the contraceptive efficacy of the contraceptive ring. Insert the ring before inserting a tampon. You should pay particular attention when removing a tampon to be sure that the ring is not accidentally pulled out. If this should occur, simply rinse the ring in water and immediately reinsert it.
Will my partner or I feel the vaginal ring during intercourse?
During intercourse, some partners may feel the contraceptive ring in the vagina. However, some may don’t like it while others doesn’t find this to be a problem.