Vaginal Ring (NuvaRing)

  • 93 - over 99 % Effective
  • No STI Protection
  • 4 weeks

What is the vaginal ring?

The vaginal ring is sold as the NuvaRing® in Australia. It is a soft plastic ring that contains two hormones, oestrogen and progestogen. These are similar to the hormones that are produced by the ovaries and used in the ‘The Pill’ (combined pill).           

Fpv Vaginal Ring
photo of vaginal ring

How effective is the vaginal ring?

If used correctly the ring is at least 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. If you forget to put a new ring in, use it incorrectly or take certain medications, it might only be 93% effective. 

How do I use the vaginal ring?

You squeeze the ring and insert it into your vagina (like inserting a tampon). 

illustration of vaginal ring being inserted inside vagina

The ring is changed every 4 weeks. It stays in the vagina for three weeks. You then take it out and throw it away and wait seven days before inserting a new ring. Most users cannot feel the ring once it is in the vagina. You will usually have your period (bleeding from your vagina) a few days after removing the ring. You can skip your period by inserting a new ring straight away and missing the seven-day break.  

What stops the vaginal ring from working?

The vaginal ring may not work if:

  • A new ring is inserted more than 24 hours late
  • It is left out of the vagina for more than 24 hours, during the 3 weeks of use; and
  • You are taking some medications or natural remedies (check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist).

How does the vaginal ring work?

The vaginal ring works by stopping the ovaries from releasing an egg each month.

illustration of eggs not being released by ovaries

It also thickens the fluid around the cervix (opening to the uterus/womb). This helps to prevent the sperm from entering.  

illustration of mucus in cervix

When you start the vaginal ring for the first time or after a break it can take up to seven days to start working. Speak with a doctor, nurse or pharmacist about the best way to get started.  

Where can I get the vaginal ring?

Your doctor will provide a script and you can get the vaginal ring from a pharmacy. You can only get up to four vaginal rings at a time. It is more expensive than some brands of the pill.

What is good about the vaginal ring?

  • It can be used to skip your period
  • Periods usually become lighter, more regular, and less painful
  • Acne can improve
  • Chance of getting cancer of the uterus (womb) and ovaries decrease
  • It can help with symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and endometriosis
  • Once stopped your fertility quickly returns to normal

Are there any side effects from using the vaginal ring?

Possible side effects for a small number of users can include:

  • An increase in vaginal discharge (fluid from the vagina)
  • Irregular vaginal bleeding
  • Nausea
  • Sore/ tender breasts
  • Headaches
  • Bloating
  • Changes to your skin
  • Mood changes

These side effects often settle with time. The ring has not been shown to cause weight gain.

A small number of women find the ring uncomfortable. Partners are usually not bothered by the ring during sex.

Can the vaginal ring cause any serious health problems?

The ring causes a very small increase in your chances of a deep vein blood clot/thrombosis, heart attack or stroke.

Reasons why the ring may not be a good option for you:

  • Have certain types of migraine headache
  • Are very overweight
  • Have a close family member who has had a deep vein blood clot/thrombosis
  • Are taking certain types of medication which might stop the ring from working (check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist)
  • Have had some health problems like, high blood pressure, heart or liver problems (check with your doctor or nurse)
  • Are over 35 years and smoke
  • Have been treated for breast cancer
  • Are unable to move around for a long time (for example because of surgery or disability)

What if I forget the ring?

  • Insert the ring as soon as you notice
  • Use condoms for the next seven days
  • If you have had sex without a condom in the seven days before missing the ring, you may need emergency contraception  or insert a new ring straight away. What you need to do depends on how many days the ring has been in for (check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist)    

What happens if I get pregnant while I’m using the vaginal ring

The ring won’t harm the pregnancy. It is safe to continue the pregnancy (and stop the vaginal ring) or to have an abortion.

Can I use the vaginal ring after I’ve had a baby?

If you are breastfeeding, the ring cannot be used until your baby is six weeks old. After six weeks you can use the ring but other types of contraception might be better choices.   

If you are not breastfeeding

The ring can usually be started once your baby is three weeks old (check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist).

What if I’m using the vaginal ring and I want to become pregnant?

You can stop the ring at any time and your fertility will quickly return.

What else should I know about the vaginal ring?

  • The ring does not protect you from sexually transmissible infections (STIs).
  • It is safe to use condoms with the ring.
  • There is no need to take the ring out for sex.
  • It is good to write down the date or enter a reminder into your phone for when your next ring is due to be removed or inserted.
  • The vaginal ring is one of many types of contraception. See other options.

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Where to get more information, support or advice

This is general information only, you should speak to your doctor for advice and further instruction.

Last updated: 28 June 2018