The NuvaRing vaginal ring is a combined hormonal contraceptive, but with a low dose of oestrogen and a type of progestogen that is similar to the one that's used in the implant. The vaginal ring may help control bleeding and improve side effects that you may find on the implant or mini pill, or with combined pills with higher doses of oestrogen. Despite what you might think - you can have sex with it in!
What is in the NuvaRing?
Alternative to NuvaRing
This contraceptive sits in Group 1 and has the same hormonal ingredient as:
There's a small chance that you or your partner will be able to feel the NuvaRing during sex, however if it is inserted correctly then it's likely you won't feel anything. If you can feel it, you may need to push it further into your vagina but if the issue persists then it's worth checking with your GP or another healthcare professional to make sure that it's correctly inserted.
Should I be able to feel my NuvaRing with my finger?
Yes - you should always be able to remove or adjust your NuvaRing with your finger.
Can the NuvaRing cause weight gain or loss?
There's no clear link between combined hormonal contraceptives, like the NuvaRing, and weight gain or loss. Weight changes can occur for a number of reasons however more research on the effects of contraception is needed to provide a concrete answer. You can also take a look our guide to contraception and weight to find out more.
Will I get my period on the NuvaRing?
Spotting or 'breakthrough bleeding' typically occurs in the first few months of taking combined hormonal contraception. So whilst it can be a pain and ruin a few pairs of pants - there's no need to worry. If you have been using the vaginal ring for more than 3 months and your spotting is continuing, or you are experiencing new or irregular bleeding then contact your doctor or nurse for advice. You may be asked to do a pregnancy test or STI test and come in for an examination. If you use your vaginal ring for 21 days and then have a break of up to 7 days you will likely have a withdrawal bleed which is similar to a period where the womb lining sheds in response to a drop in hormones. Some people may experience very light bleeding or no bleeding at all during the break. If you use the vaginal ring back to back (without a break) you can avoid having a withdrawal bleed but may experience spotting or breakthrough bleeding. This is similar to continuous pill taking with the combined pill. Find out more in our guide to continuous pill taking.
What are the pros and cons of a NuvaRing?
The pros of the NuvaRing include the fact that unlike the pill, you don't need to remember to take it everyday and only need to change it every 3 weeks. Because it's a combined method, you may experience some of the benefits of the combination of oestrogen and progestogen: it can help with acne, lighten your bleeds, enable you to control your cycle and help manage conditions like premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Some of the downsides of the NuvaRing are that you may find it a bit tricky to insert when you first start using it, and there's a small chance you or your partner may be able to feel it during sex. Check out the side effects section above for possible side effects with vaginal ring use. There is also a slightly higher increased risk of blood clots from the vaginal ring vs. other methods of contraception. You can find out more about the risks associated with the vaginal ring by checking out the 'Is It Safe' section. Read more about blood clots and the NuvaRing.
How the NuvaRing works:
The NuvaRing is a small soft plastic ring that you place inside your vagina for 3 weeks (21 days) at a time. It releases the hormones oestrogen and progestogen into the bloodstream. It prevents pregnancy in three ways – by stopping ovulation, making the fluid in your cervix thicker (which makes it more difficult for sperm to enter the womb), and preventing the lining of your womb thickening enough for a fertilised egg to implant into it.
How to use the NuvaRing:
When inserting the NuvaRing, make sure you have just washed your hands and then squeeze the first ring between your thumb and forefinger and gently insert the tip into your vagina. You should push it into your vagina so it feels comfortable - it should be far enough inside you so that you don't feel it, towards your cervix, like a tampon.
After 21 days, you remove the ring and have a 7 day ring-free break. In this break you may have a withdrawal bleed (like a period). You then put in a new ring for another 21 days. You may wish to shorten the break between taking your ring out and starting a new one, or have no break at all to avoid a withdrawal bleed. For more information on the NuvaRing, you might like to take a look at our comprehensive guide.
Coming off the vaginal ring is easy - you just stop using it. When you do this you’re no longer protected from pregnancy. If you want to stop using the ring but do not wish to become pregnant then you should consider switching to another form of contraception before you stop. If you have unprotected sex and stop the ring before you have used it for 21 consecutive days you may ovulate (release an egg from the ovary) and could become pregnant.
How safe is the NuvaRing:
The NuvaRing is a safe form of contraception. However, like with all combined hormonal methods containing oestrogen there is a small risk of developing blood clots in your veins and arteries. It may also increase your blood pressure. Your doctor will check your individual risk before prescribing the ring to you. Use of the ring is also associated with small increased risks of breast cancer and cervical cancer. These reduce with time after stopping. It's also important to remember that vaginal ring does not protect you from STIs.;