The vaginal ring is a small, soft plastic ring that you place inside your vagina for 21 days at a time. It’s about 4mm thick, and 5.5cm in diameter. Find out how it stops you getting pregnant.
A woman can get pregnant if a man’s sperm reaches one of her eggs (ova). Contraception tries to stop this happening by keeping the egg and sperm apart or by stopping egg production. One method of contraception is the vaginal ring.
You place the ring in your vagina on the first day of your period, remove it 21 days later and throw it in the bin (not down the toilet) in a special disposal bag. Seven days after removing the ring, you insert a new one for the next 21 days.
The ring continually releases oestrogen and progestogen, which are synthetic versions of the hormones that are naturally released by the ovaries.
This reduces ovulation (the release of an egg). It also thickens vaginal mucus, which makes it more difficult for sperm to get through. The ring also thins the lining of the womb so that an egg is less likely to implant there.
If used correctly, the vaginal ring is more than 99% effective. This means that less than one woman out of every 100 who use the vaginal ring will become pregnant in one year.
The ring should not be used by women who:
Sometimes, the ring can come out on its own (expulsion), particularly after or during sex, or when you're constipated. If it does, rinse it in warm water and replace it as soon as possible. If it's out for less than three hours, you're still protected against pregnancy. If it's out for more than three hours, talk to your doctor or nurse as you might be at risk of pregnancy.
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