The contraceptive vaginal ring continuously releases certain hormones- artificial forms of progesterone and estrogen into your circulatory system and this prevents pregnancy by hindering your monthly ovulatory cycle (release of the ovum or egg).
In addition to this, it also increases production of thick cervical mucus thereby making movement of the sperm through the cervix difficult and thinning the mucosal lining of your womb, making it difficult for a fertilized egg to get implanted.
The contraceptive vaginal ring can be inserted at any time during your monthly cycle, given you are not pregnant or think you are.
The ring can be left in place for about 21 days and then taken out for 7 days, after which a new ring is fitted for another 21 days. Good part is, you remain protected against pregnancy even during the short 7 days break.
If the vaginal ring is inserted on the 1st day of your monthly menstrual cycle, it would proffer you with complete protection against pregnancy immediately.
If the vaginal contraceptive ring is inserted any day after the first day of your monthly menstrual cycle, you may need to make use of extra contraception such as condoms for at least 7 days.
You can always consult your doctor or nurse to seek advice on the most suitable time for you to insert your vaginal ring and also teach you how to fix and remove the ring.
In contrast to the diaphragm or cap, the ring doesn’t have a block or cover up your cervix to produce its effect.
After it is inserted, you ought to be able to feel your vaginal ring to determine if it’s still in place or dislodged. If you stop feeling the ring, ensure you see you’re GP or nurse immediately, the ring can't get lost in your body.
The vaginal contraceptive ring should be left in place for 21 days, after which it should be removed. The day you get it removed should be the same day of the week as that on which you had it inserted.
This process should not cause you any pain or discomfort. However, if you experience any bleeding and/or pain or have difficulty finding or removing the ring, see your GP or nurse right away.
There’s usually a ring-free interval after removal of the ring, and this usually lasts a period of 7 days. During this break, you might experience some bleeding similar to that of your menses or period.
After the 7 days interval, insert a new ring. This can be done, even while you are still bleeding. Leave the ring in place for the next 21 days, and then keep on repeating the cycle.
If your vaginal ring has stayed in place for 28 days- 7 days after the end of the recommended 21 days;
Get a new ring fixed immediately you remember and also make use of extra contraception such as condoms for at least 7 days.
It may be necessary for you to make use of the emergency contraception, if you have engaged in sex with your partner, days after the ring-free interval (after 28 days), while the old ring or no ring is in place.
On a few occasions, your vaginal contraceptive ring can be expelled out of your body (expulsion) either after you have just had sex or if it isn’t fixed properly.
The next step to take is dependent on what week of your monthly cycle you are in and the period for which the ring has been out (how long).
If the vaginal ring has been outside your body for less than 3 hours (no matter what week of your monthly cycle it is):
If the ring gets expelled from the body for more than 3 hours during the first or second week:
If it gets removed from your vagina for more than 3 hours within the third week, dispose of it and either:
If you choose to do the last option, a new vaginal ring should be inserted after the short 7 days break you take after the last one got expelled. This option is only suitable for you, if the vagina ring was still in place throughout the last week before the day it got expelled.
For the both options, you will need to make use of extra contraception for a period of 7 days and also consult a GP or nurse, if you have had sex recently, as you may need to make use of emergency contraception.
The vaginal contraceptive for certain women and you may fall in this category of women if you:
Women, who aren’t smokers or have any medical conditions that can affect the use of the ring, can use it till they turn 50.
The vaginal contraceptive ring can be fixed on the 21st day after delivery. Once inserted, it offers complete protection from pregnancy immediately.
If it is inserted after the 21st day after your delivery, you will be required to make use of extra contraception such as condoms for the next 7 days, after the ring has been inserted.
However, if you are a breastfeeding mother with a baby under 6 months old, you may be advised to make use of another form of contraception. This is because the vaginal ring can affect and reduce the quantity of milk you are able to produce.
The vaginal contraceptive ring can be inserted right after a miscarriage or abortion and would not need to be used alongside another contraceptive method. If this is done, it would offer immediate and complete protection from pregnancy.
While using the hormone-based contraception such as the vaginal contraceptive ring, there’s a minor risk of developing serious side effects.
Nevertheless, for the majority of women who make us e of the ring, the benefits greatly outweigh the risks. You need to discuss all associated risks and benefits with you GP or nurse before deciding if you would like to use it.
Out of the numerous women who make use of the vaginal contraceptive ring, only a few of them may develop a blood clot (thrombosis) within a blood vessel- artery or vein. You will be advised against using the vaginal ring, if you have had a blood clot previously.
Research has revealed that women who make use of the vaginal contraceptive ring have a mildly increased risk of developing breast cancer in the future compared to those who don’t. But, the risk reduces gradually after you have stopped making use of it.
Research also shows that there is a mildly increased risk of developing cancer of the cervix, when women use hormone-based contraceptives (estrogen and progestogen) for a long period.
You can always get access to contraception at no cost, regardless of your age (even under 16). You can get from:
Note that some clinics would be unable to provide you with the vaginal ring, so you will need to check first.
When getting the prescription, you can only be given a supply for a maximum of 4 months; this is because of its short shelf life.