Ring for Birth Control: Care Instructions

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Birth control ring

Your Care Instructions

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. It gives you a regular dose of the hormones estrogen and progestin.

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.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

How do you use the ring?

  • Talk to your doctor about the best day to start using the ring. Usually, a ring is started during one of the first 5 days of your period. Ask your doctor if you need to avoid intercourse or use backup birth control, such as a condom, for the first 7 days.
  • Insert the ring according to the package instructions. You can't put the ring in incorrectly. It works no matter what its position in the vagina is.
  • Note the day you put the ring in. Leave the ring in for 3 weeks. You don't have to remove the ring when you have intercourse.
  • When the 3 weeks are up, take the ring out on the same day of the week that you put it in. Don't use another ring for 7 days. You will have your period during these 7 days.
  • After the 7-day break, put in a new ring on the same day of the week that you did 4 weeks earlier. You may still be having your period.

What if you forget to change the ring or it comes out?

Always read the label for specific instructions, or call your doctor or nurse call line. Here are some basic guidelines:

  • If you leave the ring in for more than 4 weeks, remove it. Put in a new ring. Use backup birth control, such as a condom, or don't have intercourse until the new ring has been in place for 7 days. If you had intercourse, you can use emergency contraception, such as the morning-after pill (Plan B). You can use emergency contraception for up to 5 days after having had sex, but it works best if you take it right away.
  • If a ring slips out and it is out of your vagina for less than 3 hours, you are still protected from pregnancy. The ring can be rinsed and reinserted.
  • If a ring is out of the vagina for more than 3 hours, you may not be protected from pregnancy. Rinse and reinsert the ring or put in a new one as soon as possible. Use backup birth control or don't have intercourse until a new ring has been in place for 7 days. If you had intercourse, you can use emergency contraception.

What else do you need to know?

  • The ring has side effects.
    • You may have very light or skipped periods.
    • You may have bleeding between periods (spotting). This usually decreases after 3 to 4 months.
    • You may have mood changes, less interest in sex, or weight gain.
    • You may have vaginal discharge or irritation of the vagina.
  • Check with your doctor before you use any other medicines, including over-the-counter medicines and natural health products. Birth control hormones may not work as well to prevent pregnancy when combined with other medicines.
  • The ring doesn't protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), such as herpes or HIV/AIDS. If you're not sure whether your sex partner might have an STI, use a condom to protect against disease.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have severe belly pain.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • You think you may be pregnant.
  • You have any problems with your birth control.
  • You feel you may be depressed.
  • You regularly have spotting.
  • You think you may have been exposed to or have a sexually transmitted infection.

Where can you learn more?

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

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