Vaginal ring

The ring is a small, soft plastic ring that you place inside your vagina.

Vaginal ring: an overview

The vaginal ring is a small, soft plastic ring that you place inside your vagina.

It releases the hormone oestrogen and progestogen.

The ring does not protect you against STIs, so you may need to use condoms as well.

You and your partner may feel the ring during sex, but this is not harmful.

There are two types of vaginal ring: Nuvaring and Syreniring.

The Nuvaring is stored by your provider in a fridge. It can be removed from the fridge for up to four months. Therefore, only three months of Nuvaring can be issued at a time. You do not need to keep your supply in the fridge, but you will need to get new supplies every three months.

The Syreniring does not need to be kept in the fridge. axess does not provide Syreniring.

Lasts for
Period cycle

*for typical use (effectiveness for perfect use 99%)

Vaginal ring: how to use it

How to use it

Why it works

You can insert the ring yourself. You leave it in for 21 days, then remove it and have a seven day break for a period/withdrawal bleed.

You're protected against pregnancy during the break. You can then put a new ring in for another 21 days.

There are other options for your ring regime. You can also use a ring continually by changing it every three weeks with no breaks, or using three rings one after the other, followed by a four to seven day break.

Removing the ring should be painless.

If you have any bleeding or pain, or you can’t pull it out, tell your doctor or nurse immediately.

The hormones prevent pregnancy by:

  • Preventing the ovaries from releasing an egg each month (ovulation)
  • Thickening the mucus in the neck of the womb, so it is harder for sperm to penetrate the womb and reach an egg
  • Thinning the lining of the womb, so there is less chance of a fertilised egg implanting into the womb.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the possible long term side-effects of using a vaginal ring?

A very small number of women may develop venous thrombosis, arterial thrombosis, heart attack or stroke, though this is very rare. If you have ever had thrombosis, you should not use the vaginal ring.

Some users of the ring appear to have a small increased risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer or cervical cancer compared to non-users of hormonal contraception, which reduces with time after stopping the ring.

Seek medical advice if you have any of the following:

  • Pain in the chest, including any sharp pain which is worse when you breathe in
  • Breathlessness
  • You cough up blood
  • Painful swelling in your leg(s)
  • Weakness, numbness, or bad 'pins and needles' in an arm or leg
  • Severe stomach pains
  • A bad fainting attack, or you collapse
  • Headaches or migraines that are worse than usual
  • Sudden problems with your speech or eyesight
  • Jaundice (yellowing skin or yellowing eyes)
What do I do if my vaginal ring falls out?

Sometimes the ring may come out on its own (this is called expulsion).

This is most likely to happen after or during sex, or when you're constipated.

What you should do depends on how long the ring is out for, and whether you're in the first, second, or third week of using it.

If the ring is out for more than three hours in the first or second week of using it, rinse it and put it back in. You need to use additional contraception for seven days. You may need emergency contraception if you have had sex in the last few days. You should talk to a healthcare professional.

If the ring is out for more than three hours in the third week of using it, don't put it back in. Dispose of it in the normal way. You now have two options:

  • You can put a new ring in straight away. You may not have a period-type bleed, but you may have spotting
  • OR, don't put a ring in, and have a seven-day interval. You'll have a period-type bleed, and you should put a new ring in seven days after the old one came out (you can only choose this option if the ring was continuously in for the previous seven days).

Whichever option you choose, you need to use additional contraception until the ring has been in for seven days in a row.

You should also talk to a healthcare professional if you've had sex in the past few days, as you may need emergency contraception.

What should I expect if I go to get a vaginal ring?

You will be asked your medical history and family history to check that it is safe for you to use the ring.

You must also be comfortable with putting your fingers inside your vagina to insert and remove the ring.

Your blood pressure and weight will also be monitored every twelve months.

When you start using the ring, you will be given a supply to see how it suits you.

After that, you should go back to your healthcare professional to get new supplies and to have your blood pressure checked.

If there are no problems, you can be given a further supply of vaginal rings. At axess, we only stock Nuvaring (not Syreniring), so you will only be able to get the ring in three-month intervals, as they need to be stored in a fridge before being dispensed.

What can make the vaginal ring less effective?

Medications used to treat epilepsy, HIV and TB, and the herbal medicine St. John's Wort.

Ask a healthcare professional and read the information that comes with your medicine.

Always tell your doctor that you are using the ring if you are prescribed any medicines.

Who is the vaginal ring suitable for?

Most people with a vagina can use the ring, but your GP or clinician will ask about your family and medical history to determine whether or not it is the best method for you.

The ring is not suitable for women who:

  • Are pregnant
  • Smoke (or stopped smoking less than a year ago)
  • Are 35 or older
  • Are very overweight
  • Are over 50 years old
  • Take certain medicines (speak to a healthcare professional about this)
  • Have, or have had, diabetes, thrombosis, heart abnormality or heart disease (including high blood pressure)
  • Are immobile for a long period of time, or use a wheelchair
  • Have systemic lupus erythematosus
  • Have loose vaginal muscles
Can the vaginal ring get stuck inside me?

The vaginal ring is a soft flexible ring that is inserted into the top of your vagina, like a tampon, but it is easily removed by hooking it with your finger.

Your vagina is a tube with a blind end, so the ring cannot get lost inside you.