USING THE VAGINAL RING

What is the Vaginal Ring?

The Vaginal Ring (brand name NuvaRing®) is a clear, flexible, and thin plastic ring that is 54 mm in diameter and 4 mm thick. It provides a continuous low dose of progesterone and estrogen to prevent pregnancy.

How does the Vaginal Ring work?

  • It prevents pregnancy by stopping the release of an egg (ovulation).
  • It also thickens the vaginal fluid and changes the lining of the uterus to make pregnancy less likely.  

How effective is the Vaginal Ring?

The vaginal ring is a very effective method of birth control. It is 93% effective at preventing pregnancy. With typical use, 7 out of every 100 people using the vaginal ring will get pregnant in one year. But, with consistent and correct use, the vaginal ring can up to 99% + effective.

  • Less period cramping and bleeding.
  • Decreased symptoms of Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS).
  • Periods are more predictable/regular, lighter or some people have no periods.
  • Less anemia caused by iron deficiency due to heavy periods.
  • Less acne.
  • Some protection against non-cancerous breast tumours, ovarian cysts, and fibroids.
  • Decreased risk of ovarian and uterine cancer.
  • Sexual enjoyment may increase, as using the vaginal ring can reduce the fear of pregnancy.
  • May protect against osteoporosis and endometriosis.
  • Does not impact future fertility.
  • Easy to stop without lasting effects.
  • Remembering to remove and replace the ring each cycle
  • In the first few months of use, some people using the vaginal ring may experience some mild side effects. Some examples of side effects; spotting, nausea, breast tenderness, headaches or dizziness. For most users these symptoms will get better after a few months.
  • Rare but serious complications of using the vaginal ring include:
    • blood clots
    • heart attack
    • stroke
    • liver tumours
  • Risks increase with age when accompanied by certain other risk factors such as smoking, especially more than 15 cigarettes a day.
  • The possibility of high blood pressure.
  • No protection against STIs.
  • Other medications can interact with your birth control. Be sure to mention that you are using birth control to your health care provider or pharmacist. Some medications and over-the-counter herbal supplements (such as St. John’s Wort) may decrease the effectiveness of birth control. You may be advised to use backup birth control while on these medications.

There are some signs that all people using the vaginal ring should be aware of as these may indicate a serious complication. Seek medical attention immediately if you have any of the following ACHES symptoms:

Abdominal pain, especially on the right side of your stomach, below your rib cage

Chest or arm pain, shortness of breath, coughing up blood

Headaches, severe and not relieved by over the counter pain medications

Eye problems, blurred vision, flashing lights, double vision, blindness

Swelling, redness, numbness, tingling or pain in the legs

Seems confusing? We’re here for you!

We know it can be confusing to choose a method. We are here to help. Our Options for Sexual Health Clinics are staffed by health care professionals who are there to answer your questions.  They can help you learn how to use the method you choose and bring you back to check in on how the method is working for you.

Between visits or anytime, our Sex Sense team is there to answer any questions you might have by phone (1-800-739-7367) or by email at SexSense.org

This is general information and should not be used in place of individual consultation with a qualified healthcare provider.

Have a question about sexual health?