The vaginal ring is a small and flexible contraceptive device which is placed in the vagina. It is made from plastic and is around 4mm thick and has a 5.5cm diameter.
It works by releasing oestrogen and progestogen steadily through the vaginal wall into the bloodstream. These hormones stop ovulation, thicken the cervix’s mucus and thin the lining of the womb, reducing the risk of pregnancy.
The ring is inserted into the vagina and left there for 21 days. After this, it needs to be removed and then you have a seven day break. During the time without the ring, you may experience light bleeding known as withdrawal bleeding. This is because your body isn’t getting the hormones it’s used to. After the 7 day break, a new ring can be inserted.
Free contraception is available from GUM and sexual health clinics, as well as some GPs and young people’s services.
- The ring is left in place for 21 days; it is then removed and thrown in the bin and a new ring can be inserted 7 days later.
- Easy to insert and remove.
- Not affected by sickness and diarrhoea.
- Periods may become lighter, regular and less painful.
- It can help with premenstrual symptoms.
- Can also improve acne and skin conditions in some women.
- 99% effective.
- Some women may not feel comfortable or confident to insert and remove the ring.
- Possibility of temporary side effects, including increased vaginal discharge, headaches, nausea, breast tenderness and mood changes.
- Occasional break-through bleeding and spotting.
- The vaginal ring does not protect you against STIs so you will also need to continue using condoms.