Learning About Birth Control: The Ring

Skip to the navigation

What is the ring?

Vaginal ring

The ring is used to prevent pregnancy. It's a soft plastic ring that you put into your vagina. It's also called the vaginal ring.

The ring releases a regular dose of the hormones estrogen and progestin. These hormones prevent pregnancy in three ways. They thicken the mucus in the cervix. This makes it hard for sperm to travel into the uterus. They thin the lining of the uterus, which makes it harder for a fertilized egg to attach to the uterus. The hormones also can stop the ovaries from releasing an egg each month (ovulation).

The ring protects against pregnancy for 1 month at a time. You wear one ring for 3 weeks in a row and then go without a ring for 1 week. During this week, you have your period. Your period may be very light.

How well does it work?

In the first year of use:

  • When the ring is used exactly as directed, fewer than 1 woman out of 100 has an unplanned pregnancy.
  • When the ring is not used exactly as directed, 9 women out of 100 have an unplanned pregnancy.

What are the advantages of the ring?

  • The ring is more effective for preventing pregnancy than barrier methods of birth control, such as the condom or diaphragm.
  • It prevents pregnancy for up to 1 month at a time.
  • It may reduce acne, heavy bleeding and cramping, and symptoms of premenstrual syndrome.
  • The ring is convenient. You insert it only 1 time each month. You do not have to interrupt sex to protect against pregnancy.

What are the disadvantages of the ring?

  • The ring doesn't protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), such as herpes or HIV/AIDS. If you aren't sure if your sex partner might have an STI, use a condom to protect against disease.
  • The ring may cause changes in your period. You may have little bleeding, skipped periods, or spotting.
  • It may cause mood changes, less interest in sex, or weight gain.
  • The ring contains estrogen. It may not be right for you if you have certain health problems or concerns.
  • You must remember to change the ring on schedule.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

Enter H169 in the search box to learn more about "Learning About Birth Control: The Ring".