Anyone who has a womb, who has sex with a partner who has a penis, and wants to avoid getting pregnant. It may also stop periods, or make them lighter. It's not an option for those who have had a blood clot in a vein or artery, have had heart or circulatory problems, including high blood pressure or have migraine with aura (warning symptoms).
The vaginal ring ( brand name: NuvaRing) is a small soft, plastic ring that you place inside your vagina.
It releases a continuous dose of the hormones oestrogen and progestogen into the bloodstream to prevent pregnancy. If used correctly, the vaginal ring is more than 99% effective.
One ring provides contraception for a month, so you don't have to think about it every day.
You can start using the vaginal ring at any time during your menstrual cycle if you're not pregnant. You leave it in for 21 days, then remove it and have a 7-day ring-free break. You're protected against pregnancy during the ring-free break. You then put a new ring in for another 21 days.
You'll be protected against pregnancy straight away if you insert it on the first day of your period (the first day of your menstrual cycle). If you start using the ring at any other time in your menstrual cycle, you'll be protected against pregnancy as long as you use additional contraception (such as condoms) for the first 7 days of using it.
You can discuss this with your GP or nurse to decide when might be the best time for you to start using it and how to insert and remove it.
It's very useful for people who find it difficult to remember to take a pill at the same time every day.
The ring may ease premenstrual symptoms, and bleeding will probably be lighter and less painful.
The ring does not protect your from STIs, so it should be used alongside a barrier method (e.g. condoms, dental dams) if you are having sex with someone who does not know their STI status, or if you do not know yours.
Some people have temporary side effects, including more vaginal discharge, breast tenderness and headaches. A few people develop a blood clot when using the ring, but this is rare. The ring can sometimes come out on its own, but you can rinse it in warm water and put it back in as soon as possible.
In the UK you can get contraception for free, even if you're under 16, from contraception clinics, sexual health or genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinics and some GP surgeries. But not all clinics are able to provide the vaginal ring, so it's worth checking first.
You won't be able to get a prescription for more than 4 months' supply at a time because this is its shelf life
real life experiences
"I'd had a bad experience with the implant, so I decided to switch to using a vaginal ring. I'm so happy I made that decision. I liked that I had regular periods, and I knew when I would have them. I've been using it for about 3 months and it's brought me so much freedom. I've experienced barely any side effects, unlike with the implant, apart from a bit more discharge. I can tell that my mental health is a lot more stable too." Becca, she/her