What you need to know about the ring

The vaginal ring is a small, flexible 5cm diameter plastic ring that you put into your vagina. It contains synthetic versions of the body’s reproductive hormones, oestrogen and progesterone.  

The ring releases these hormones at a controlled rate and they get absorbed into your bloodstream through your vagina.

Also known as

  • the ring

  • vaginal ring

  • Nuvaring

  • SyreniRing

The vaginal ring is great for people who want to have more control over their bleeding pattern. It requires action every 3 weeks, rather than every day, like the pill, so it may be useful for people who struggle to remember to take a daily pill. It has similar advantages and disadvantages to the combined pill.

Dr Paula Baraitser. Medical Director, SH:24

Likelihood of getting pregnant over 1 year

The ring is highly effective at preventing pregnancy if you remember to change it on time. Used perfectly, the ring is over 99% effective.

But none of us are perfect and it's more usual that people be late changing the ring or not follow the instructions exactly. So with more typical use, it's 91% effective.

This means typically 9 in 100 people using the ring will get pregnant in one year.

The ring is a good option if you...

It’s not a good option if you...

  • have a higher risk of blood clots (thrombosis) – this includes if you’ve had a clot in the past or have a family history of thrombosis

  • you smoke and are aged over 35, as this causes a higher risk of heart disease

It's also not recommended if you have...

  • migraines with aura

  • irregular bleeding, unless you’ve investigated the treatable causes of it

  • a BMI (body mass index) of over 35 as this increases your risk of thrombosis

  • high blood pressure (which means over 140/90 mmHg) as the ring can make high blood pressure worse in a small percentage of people

  • limited mobility, because this causes a higher risk of thrombosis

  • systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) because of the thrombosis risk

  • breast cancer, or you’ve had it in the past – the hormones could increase the growth of some breast cancers

  • reduced liver function – you need your liver to break down the hormones in the ring

  • medications that you take that interact with the ring

You can choose when you bleed 

You can use the ring in 3 different ways. You can choose to have no bleeding at all, a regular monthly bleed or a bleed every three months. When you do bleed, it will be lighter, shorter and less painful than your usual period.

Improves acne

Many women find they have fewer problems with acne when they use the vaginal ring.

It can reduce the risk of some cancers but increase others

The vaginal ring uses very similar hormones to the combined contraceptive pill. This means they have similar effects, including reducing the risks of cancers of the ovary, womb and colon but slightly increasing the risk of breast cancer.

Everything you wanted to know about sexual health and wellbeing - your questions answered by our expert team.