Vaginal ring icon

Vaginal ring 

  • 91% effective
  • Replace monthly
  • Prescription required
  • Contains hormones
  • No STI/STD protection
  • Lighter periods


What is it?
  • The vaginal ring is a small, flexible plastic ring with hormones that you place in your vagina to prevent pregnancy.

  • You insert a ring into the vagina, leave it in for 3 weeks, and remove it on week 4, while you get your period.

  • If used perfectly, the vaginal ring is 99% effective in preventing pregnancy. But people aren’t perfect. So, in reality, the ring is about 91% effective.*

  • A common vaginal ring brand is NuvaRing.
How it works
  • The vaginal ring contains the hormones estrogen and progestin to stop you from getting pregnant.

  • The ring releases these hormones into your body through the vagina.

  • The hormones in the ring work by:

    • Stopping your ovaries from releasing eggs. When eggs aren’t released, you can’t get pregnant.

    • Making the mucus in your cervix too thick for sperm to pass through. This prevents sperm from meeting an egg.
How to get it
  • You can get a prescription for a vaginal ring at your medical facility.
  • Because of the Affordable Care Act, Kaiser Permanente members can get certain types of birth control methods at low or no cost. Check with Member Services or your provider for details.
How to use it
  • To insert a ring, squeeze the sides of the ring together with your fingers. Gently push it into your vagina. There’s no perfect way to insert it. As long as you can’t feel it while you’re walking around, you’ve inserted it correctly.

  • Leave the ring in your vagina for 3 weeks. You can have sex with the ring in.

  • At week 4, remove the ring by hooking your finger under the ring and gently pulling it out of your vagina. Throw it away.

  • After removing the ring, you should get your period within a few days. At the end of week 4, insert a new ring to start the cycle over.

  • Make sure you fill your prescription for the ring on time so you can remove and insert the ring at the right times for your cycle.

  • If the ring slips out, rinse it off and put it back into your vagina. If the ring is out for more than 3 hours before you put it back in, use condoms for the next 7 days.
  • The vaginal ring is about 91% effective in preventing pregnancy. That’s because people don’t always use it correctly.

  • You can leave the ring in during sex. Your partner won’t be able to feel the ring during sex.

  • You may have lighter, more regular, or less painful periods.

  • The ring helps prevent or lessen acne, body hair, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), anemia, and ovarian cysts.

  • It’s temporary. You can stop using it whenever you want to try getting pregnant.

  • The hormones in the ring help decrease your risk of endometrial and ovarian cancers.
  • The vaginal ring doesn’t protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs/STDs), including HIV. Even if you use the ring, you should use a condom every time you have sex to reduce your chances of getting or spreading STIs.

  • It may cause an increase in vaginal discharge.

  • If you don’t use the ring correctly, you’re more likely to get pregnant.

  • Blood clots in the veins and arteries are a serious, but uncommon, side effect of using the vaginal ring. Blood clots can lead to serious conditions, such as deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolus.

  • If you have uncontrolled high blood pressure, you shouldn't use the vaginal ring. It can increase your risk of stroke.

  • Smoking and using the vaginal ring can increase your risks for blood clots in your veins and arteries, high blood pressure, and stroke.


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© 2020 Kaiser Permanente

*“Birth control ring,” Planned Parenthood,, accessed August 13, 2019.