How does it work?

The vaginal ring is a flexible plastic ring that is inserted in the vagina for three weeks out of four.  It contains hormones (estrogen and progestogen) which are similar to the hormones women naturally produce.

A constant dose of hormones is released from the ring into the bloodstream through the vaginal wall which stops the ovaries from releasing an egg each month (ovulation).  They also thicken the mucus in the cervix preventing sperm reaching the egg and thin the lining of the uterus so it is less likely to accept a fertilised egg.

What are the advantages?

  • The vaginal ring is over 99% effective if used according to instructions
  • It’s easy to insert and remove
  • It isn’t affected by vomiting or diarrhoea
  • Your period will usually become more regular, lighter and less painful

Are there any disadvantages?

  • You may get temporary side effects including vaginal infections, headaches, nausea, irregular bleeding and tender breasts
  • There may be a small increased risk of thrombosis, breast cancer and cervical cancer
  • The vaginal ring does not protect you against sexually transmitted infections so you may need to use condoms too.

Where can I get it?

You can get the vaginal ring from your GP or local sexual health clinic