The Vaginal Ring
What is it?
The vaginal ring (also known as the contraceptive ring) is a white and flexible plastic ring that is inserted into the vagina each month. It contains two hormones - an oestrogen and a progestrogen - that prevent ovulation and therefore prevent pregnancy. It is around 99% effective against pregnancy if used properly.
How is it used?
The woman inserts a ring into her vagina each month. The ring is soft and flexible, so it can be flattened and inserted easily through the vaginal opening. It should be inserted high into the vagina, and it should not feel uncomfortable once it is in place. It is removed after 21 days, and following a 7 day break a new ring is inserted. You can get some bleeding, like a light period, during your ring-free break. Ensure your hands are clean before inserting or removing the ring.
How quickly does it work?
You can insert your first ring at any time during your menstrual cycle if you are not pregnant.
If you insert your first ring during the first day of your period, you will be protected against pregnancy straight away. If you insert the ring at any other time, it will take longer for it to start working and you should use condoms for 7 days to avoid getting pregnant.
What if I forget to remove it after 21 days?
If it has been less than 7 days since you were meant to remove the ring, remove the ring as soon as possible and have your 7 day ring-free break as usual. Then inset a new ring. You will remain protected against pregnancy and there is no need to take additional precautions.
If it has been more than 7 days since you were meant to remove the ring (in other words, the ring has been inside your vagina for longer than 28 days), take the ring out as soon as you remember and insert a new ring straight away. Use condoms for the first 7 days after inserting a new ring. If you recently had unprotected sex, consider using a morning after pill.
What if the ring comes out?
It is possible for the ring to come out during sex, or if it was not inserted properly.
If the ring has been out for less than 3 hours, rinse it with warm water and reinsert it as soon as possible. You are still protected against pregnancy and you do not need to take additional precautions.
If the ring has been out for more than 3 hours in the first or second week, rinse it with warm water and reinsert it as soon as possible. Use condoms for the next 7 days. If you recently had unprotected sex, consider using a morning after pill.
If the ring has been out for more than 3 hours in the third week, throw it away. Then either insert a new ring straight away or have your 7 day ring-free break and then insert a new ring. Use condoms for the next 7 days. If you recently had unprotected sex, consider using a morning after pill.
How much does the vaginal ring cost and how do I get the vaginal ring in Malta?
The NuvaRing is a vaginal ring that costs around EUR 20-30 a month. There are also generic versions of the vaginal ring such as Teyla.
All vaginal rings require a doctor's prescription. Since vaginal rings contain hormones, they may not be suitable for you if you have cetain medical conditions. Your doctor will explain this in more detail. Once you have a prescription you can purchase them from your local pharmacy.
Do you still have questions about vaginal rings? Search for answers in our Knowledge Base.