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GB-NON-02457 | Date of Preparation: April 2020


Vaginal ring

A vaginal ring is a small, soft ring, made of plastic that you put inside your vagina as a form of birth control1


Vaginal ring key facts

The ring contains the hormones oestrogen and progestogen. It releases these hormones into the bloodstream to prevent pregnancy.1


It only needs replacing once a month1


May suit women who find remembering to take contraception every day difficult1


Because you keep it in for weeks at a time, you don’t need to interrupt sex to use it1

  • Typically 91%* effective, but more than 99% effective when used correctly1,2
  • Each ring protects you from pregnancy for a month1
  • Not affected by vomiting and diarrhoea1
  • You need to learn how to insert the ring – a doctor or nurse can show you how to put it in1
  • Not all women can use the vaginal ring1
  • You and your partner might feel it during sex1

The pros and cons listed are not exhaustive. Talk to your doctor or nurse for more information.

*These are "typical" effectiveness rates, which is how effective the method is with an average person. Typical rates tend to reflect real life usage (including inconsistent and incorrect use). "Perfect" effectiveness rates are how effective the method is when used perfectly. Refer to the patient information leaflet for "perfect" use.

Common questions

Who is the ring not suitable for?

If you’re over 35 and you smoke, this one’s probably not for you. Also, if you have a medical condition or take certain medicines, it might not be a good option – so make sure you chat to your doctor or nurse first.1

Are there health risks with the vaginal ring?

Like all medicines, the vaginal ring can be associated with side effects, such as headaches and vaginal discharge, though not everyone gets them. There’s also some evidence that suggests you might be at increased risk of some cancers.1 If you want to know more about this, have a chat with your doctor or nurse.

How do I use the ring?

With clean hands, you squeeze the ring and insert the tip into your vagina. You then push it up in your vagina until it feels comfortable. Once it’s in, you leave it for 21 days. After that, you should take it out and have a 7-day break (you are still protected from pregnancy in this week). If you want to carry on being protected from pregnancy, you should put a new one in.1

Similar contraceptive types

This contraceptive is a type known as short-acting – for more contraceptives like this, click below

Combined pill

Tell me more


Tell me more

Progestogen-only pill

Tell me more

So what do I do now?

Now you have a few options for types of contraception that might be right for you, you should have a chat with a GP/doctor or nurse.


Sexual health clinic

Find and visit a contraception clinic near you for information about your available choices.

Find out more


Pop into your local pharmacy and ask about your options.

Find a pharmacy

GP clinic

Make an appointment with your nurse or doctor so you can chat about what options are best for you.

Find a GP

You may want to download information on your options to help with your discussion.

Download now

PDF - 0.5MB

Reporting of Side Effects: If you get any side effects, talk to your doctor, pharmacist or nurse. This includes any possible side effects not listed in the package leaflet. You can also report side effects directly via the Yellow Card Scheme at By reporting side effects you can help provide more information on the safety of this medicine.


  1. NHS contraception guide: Vaginal ring.
    Available at: (Last accessed June 2019).
  2. NHS Contraception Guide: How effective is contraception at preventing pregnancy?
    Available at: (Last accessed July 2019).
  1. Merriam-Webster medical dictionary. Available at: (Last accessed September 2019).

Contraceptive Match is an awareness campaign which has been fully funded and developed by MSD.

Images on this site are for illustrative purposes only.