The Vaginal Ring

The “the ring” or “Nuva ring” is a flexible plastic ring that is inserted into the vagina and left in place for 21 days (3 weeks.) It releases hormones similar to the pill that prevent pregnancy.

Pros:

  • Reliable (99% effective if used as directed)
  • You only need to remember to do something 2x/month – insert and remove 21 days later. Wait 7 days and insert a new one.
  • Private and discreet – no one sees it inside the vagina
  • Most users find it very easy to insert and remove

Cons:

  • You must be comfortable touching your genitals to insert and remove
  • Does not protect against STIs
  • May cause vaginal discomfort for some women
  • Not suitable for women who cannot take the birth control pill for medical reasons

How effective is the ring?

The ring is 94-99% effective at preventing pregnancy. It is more effective when used perfectly. It is placed high in the vagina once every 28 days. It is kept in place for 21 days and removed for a 7 day period to permit a withdrawal bleed (period).
How does the ring work?

The ring contains the hormones estrogen and progestin (similar to the birth control pill) which are released in a slow steady dose to prevent pregnancy. The hormones in the ring work much the same way as the birth control pill:

  • prevents ovulation (release of an egg)
  • builds up the cervical mucus which acts like a barrier to help immobilize sperm
  • thins out the lining of the uterus to prevent implantation of a fertilized egg.

The ring does not protect against sexually transmitted infections. Using a condom with the ring will help to reduce the risk of STIs and will provide extra pregnancy protection.

How do I get the ring?

The ring is only available by prescription from a doctor or a nurse. The ring varies in cost depending on where you have your prescription filled. You don’t need a pelvic exam to get a prescription for the ring or to have it inserted. A user can insert it for themselves very easily.

How do I use the ring correctly?

How to use the Nuva ring:

  • Insert the Nuva Ring within the first 5 days of your period (no later than day 5) even if you haven’t finished your menstrual cycle. Be sure to use a back up method of birth control, such as condoms, for the first 7 days of continuous use.
  • Insert one ring into the vagina using any position that is comfortable (i.e., standing with one leg up, lying down or squatting). Sometimes users will take a tampon out of an applicator and put the ring inside the applicator and use that to insert the ring into the vagina.
  • Press the edges of the ring together and place one end into the opening of the vagina. Push the ring high into the vagina. There is no exact position that is crucial for the placement of the ring. As long as you are comfortable, the ring is placed correctly placed. The hormones will be absorbed into the bloodstream regardless of where the ring is placed inside the vagina.
  • Leave the ring in place for 3 weeks (21 days).
  • After 21 days remove the ring for 7 days. To remove the ring, hook your index finger over the edge of the ring and gently pull it out. Discard the ring in the foil packet provided and throw into garbage- Do not flush down the toilet! During this 7 day interval you will have a period.
  • Insert a new ring at the end of the 7 days to begin a new cycle, even if you still have your period. Note that you will always be inserting a new ring on the same day of the week that you inserted the previous ring. Set the alarm on your phone or download a ring reminder app to keep you on track. They’re free and easy to use.

A period or bleed outside this week is not uncommon especially in the first few months after you begin. If midcycle bleeding persists, speak to a physician.

If you have unprotected sex after forgetting to put in a ring one time contact the clinic at (250) 592-3479 to discuss taking the “Emergency Contraceptive Pill (ECP)”.

You can also get Emergency Contraception from pharmacies in BC without a prescription.  The sooner you take the ECP the more effective it is at preventing pregnancy.

Danger signals for ring users

Call your doctor or go to the nearest medical treatment centre immediately if you have any of the following symptoms while using the ring:

  • A – Abdominal pain, severe
  • C – Chest pain (severe), cough, or shortness of breath
  • H – Headache (severe) or increased frequency or intensity of headache, dizziness, weakness, or numbness
  • E – Eye problems: vision loss or blurring, speech problems/li>
  • S – Severe leg pain in calf or thigh/li>