What Is Vaginal Ring?
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Vaginal Ring - Types, Advantages, and Risks

Published on Feb 23, 2023   -  5 min read


The vaginal ring is a flexible plastic ring placed inside the vagina to prevent pregnancy by releasing the hormones estrogen and progestin.


Unprotected sex during any time has the chance of pregnancy. Birth control or contraception is the process of preventing pregnancy. Various birth control methods include intrauterine devices (IUD), birth control pills, condoms, vasectomy, and others. A vaginal ring is a suitable option for birth control in women with a uterus who do not want to get pregnant. It is a low-maintenance option for birth control as it has to be inserted only once a month, unlike birth control pills that must be taken daily.

What Is a Vaginal Ring?

The vaginal ring is a convenient and safe hormonal birth control method. A soft plastic ring is inserted into the vagina to prevent pregnancy by releasing hormones into the body. It is also known as the birth control ring. A vaginal ring is about two inches round. The vaginal ring contains two hormones, estrogen, and progestin, similar to the hormones produced by the ovaries and is also found in oral contraceptive pills. The ring releases both hormones (estrogen and progestin) through the vaginal lining into the body. A vaginal ring is a prescription-only method of contraception.

What Are the Types of Vaginal Rings?

As approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there are two types of vaginal rings. They are as follows:

  • NuvaRing: These rings are for one-time use. A NuvaRing is worn for three weeks (21 days) and removed for the next seven days (one week) to allow bleeding. After the seventh day, a new ring is again inserted into the vagina, and a new cycle is started. Each NuvaRing contains hormones lasting up to 35 days (five weeks). Hence, women who want to delay their periods by one or two weeks can wear the ring for four to five weeks.

  • Annovera Ring: Annovera vaginal ring is reusable as a single ring lasts about one year (13 cycles). Annovera rings are usually worn for three weeks (21 days) and then taken out for one week (seven days). Once the ring is removed from the vagina at the end of 21 days, it is washed with water and mild soap and safely stored in the case with it. The Annovera ring is inserted back into the vagina at the end of the seven ring-free days. Annovera rings contain hormones that can last up to one year. However, the ring should not be kept continuously inside the vagina for one year as it is advised to be taken out once every three weeks.

How to Insert a Vaginal Ring?

The steps used in inserting a vaginal ring are as follows:

How to Remove a Vaginal Ring?

The steps involved in removing a vaginal ring are as follows:

  • After washing hands, a clean finger (usually the index finger) is inserted into the vagina.

  • Once the ring has been found, the finger should be hooked through the ring or under the edge of the ring and gently pulled out.

  • The used ring should be placed in the original bag or foil packet and disposed of in the bin. Care should be taken not to flush down the ring in the toilet.

  • Removing the vaginal ring should be painless. Any signs of bleeding or pain should be reported to the doctor.

How Does Vaginal Ring Prevent Pregnancy?

  • The vaginal ring continuously releases synthetic estrogen and progestin.

  • The body absorbs the released hormones through the vaginal lining and reaches the bloodstream.

  • Estrogen prevents the monthly release of eggs by the ovaries. This leads to the unavailability of the egg to be fertilized with the sperm.

  • Progestin causes the thickening of the mucus around the cervix, which makes it hard for the sperm to get inside and reach the egg.

  • The hormones also lead to thinning of the uterus lining, which prevents the fertilized egg from implanting itself.

What Are the Advantages of Vaginal Ring?

The advantages of using a vaginal ring are as follows:

  • Easy to use.

  • Flexible enough to fit inside all vaginas.

  • Reduced side effects than oral contraceptives.

  • Helps in making the periods lighter, shorter, regular, and easily predictable. The hormones present in the ring help in reducing menstrual cramps.

  • It can reduce the severity or prevent conditions like ectopic pregnancy, iron deficiency anemia, cysts in the ovaries and breast, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and ovarian cancers.

  • It can be removed at any time and tried for pregnancy.

  • Helps with the symptoms of endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

What Are the Disadvantages of Vaginal Ring?

The disadvantages of a vaginal ring are as follows:

  • Does not protect against sexually transmitted infections.

  • Vaginal irritation or infections.

  • Spotting between periods.

  • Tender or sore breasts.

  • Nausea.

  • Increased vaginal discharge.

  • Headaches.

  • Certain medicines can make the ring less effective.

  • Reduced sex drive.

What Are the Risks Associated With Vaginal Rings?

Usage of a vaginal ring increases the risk of the following conditions:

  • High blood pressure.

  • Heart attack.

  • Stroke.

  • Blood clots.

  • Pulmonary embolism.

  • Toxic shock syndrome (TSS).

Who Should Not Use a Vaginal Ring?

The vaginal ring is contraindicated in women with the following conditions:

  • History of heart attack and stroke.

  • Above 35 years of age.

  • Uncontrolled high blood pressure.

  • Breast cancer.

  • Liver disease.

  • Obesity.

  • Migraines.

  • Uncontrolled diabetes.

How Effective Is a Vaginal Ring?

When used correctly, the vaginal ring can be 99% effective in pregnancy prevention. However, factors like forgetting to place a new ring, incorrect usage, or certain medications can reduce its effectiveness to 93%.


Vaginal rings are an effective way of preventing pregnancy when used appropriately. However, while many women consider vaginal rings an effective and convenient method of birth control, it has certain disadvantages like any other birth control method. Hence, discussing with the doctor the advantages and disadvantages of the vaginal ring would help decide whether it is the right choice of contraception.

Frequently Asked Questions


What Is a Vaginal Ring and How Does it Work?

The vaginal ring is a small, flexible, plastic ring. A vaginal ring is inserted into the vagina to prevent pregnancy. It is about 2 inches. A vaginal ring is a type of hormonal contraception used to prevent pregnancy in the same way as the combination oral contraceptive pill does.  


What Are the Disadvantages of Vaginal Ring?

Some women experience temporary adverse effects such as increased vaginal discharge, breast pain, and headaches. Other side effects of using vaginal pills are:
- Nausea.
- Bloating.
- Mood changes.
- Sore and tender breast.
- Changes to the breast.
- Irregular vaginal bleeding.


What Are the Advantages of a Vaginal Ring?

The vaginal ring is a reversible method of hormonal contraception with major advantages in easier dosage. Birth control rings are easy, safe, and helpful to prevent pregnancy. The benefits of a vaginal ring are:
- It does not interfere with sex.
- It is simple to insert and remove.
- It may be beneficial for premenstrual symptoms.
- Less painful periods and lighter periods.


Is a Vaginal Ring Better than Ipill?

When worn correctly, the vaginal ring is more than 99 % successful. The ring provides contraception for a month. One can continue to have sex while the ring is on. Unlike the pill, the ring works if the person has vomiting or diarrhea.


Does the Vaginal Ring Affect Periods?

The vaginal ring, like the birth control pill or patch, is based on the monthly menstrual cycle. The ring may alleviate premenstrual symptoms and make bleeding lighter and less unpleasant. For some, it may result in lighter periods, while for others, it may result in a missed period.


Can One Get Pregnant Off the Ring?

The vaginal ring has a 91 % to 99 % success rate. This indicates that if the birth control ring is used correctly, less than one in every 100 people will become pregnant in a year. In a typical year, 9 out of every 100 people who use vaginal will become pregnant.

Last reviewed at:
23 Feb 2023  -  5 min read




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