The Ring

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT:

What is the vaginal ring?

• The vaginal ring is a small, soft, flexible plastic ring placed into the vagina.
• It contains artificial hormones similar to the natural hormones that already exist in your body.
• The ring slowly releases hormones into the body through the vagina.

How does the vaginal ring work?

• The vaginal ring prevents your ovaries from releasing an ovum (egg cell) each month.
• The ring makes the cervical mucus thicker. This makes it harder for sperm to get into the cervix.
• The ring also changes the lining of the uterus. The lining gets thinner so it is harder for a fertilized
egg to stick to the uterus. Even if an egg is released and fertilized, it will not continue to grow.
• When used correctly, the ring prevents pregnancy 97-99% of the time.

How do I use the vaginal ring?

• The vaginal ring comes in only one size, which can fit into any vagina.
• Insert the vaginal ring on the first day of your menstrual period.
• Use your thumb and index finger to press the sides of the ring together. Gently push the folded ring
inside your vagina. You can place it anywhere in your vagina.
• If you insert the ring deep in your vagina, you will be less likely to feel it. This will also reduce the
chance of it slipping.
• Leave the ring inside your vagina for three weeks. Then remove the ring, using your fingers (it
should come out easily). You do not need to wear it during the fourth week. You will get your period
during this ring-free week.
• Following the ring-free week, insert a new ring to continue protection from pregnancy and start a
new cycle. Insert the new ring on the same weekday and at the same hour each 4 week cycle.

How soon does the vaginal ring start working?

• If you insert the ring during the first five days of your period, the ring starts working after 7 days.
• Until the ring starts working (7 days) use another method of birth control (such as condoms).
Does the vaginal ring protect me from STIs and HIV?
• No. Using safer sex supplies every time you have sex reduces the risk of getting an STI (sexually
transmitted infection) or HIV infection.

Are there any side effects?

You may feel some minor side effects. If they are very uncomfortable, talk to your health care
provider. Minor side effects include:
• bleeding between periods
• breast discomfort
• headaches
• nausea
• vaginal irritation/discharge

What if the vaginal ring falls out?

If the vaginal ring falls out, rinse it with cool or lukewarm water. Put it back into the vagina at once.
If the ring has been out for more than 3 hours, rinse it with plain water and put it back into the vagina
and keep it in for 7 more days. Then go one week without the ring. Now start a new cycle.

What if I forget to insert the vaginal ring after the week off?

Insert the ring as soon as you remember. Use another method of birth control (such as condoms) for
the next 7 days, if having penis-vagina sex.

What if I miss my period?

• Pregnancy may be a possibility. Consider getting an at-home pregnancy test, or have one done with
your health care provider at a community health centre or at a teen clinic (if you are under 22 years of
age).

Is the vaginal ring safe for all women to use?

• No. Ask your health care provider if it is right for you. Tell them about any medical problems.
• If you smoke, especially if you are over 35, the vaginal ring may not be right for you.

Where can I get the vaginal ring?

You can get a prescription for the vaginal ring from:
• Your health care provider.
• A teen clinic
• A walk-in clinic
• A community health clinic

Where can I get more information?

• From your health care provider, community health clinic, or public health nurse.If you need a regular
health care provider, call the Family Doctor Finder at 204-786-7111 or toll-free at 1-866-690-8260, or
go to www.gov.mb.ca/health/familydoctorfinder.
• From a teen clinic, if you are under 22 years old.
• From the Facts of Life On-Line: e-mail your questions to thefactsoflife@serc.mb.ca.
•From websites: www.sexualityandu.ca or www.serc.mb.ca.

If you think you may not have used the ring as instructed or forgot to insert it after the week off and
have engaged in unprotected penis-vagina sex, there is a change of pregnancy. You can consider
using emergency contraception as soon as possible up to 5 days after sex. See a pharmacist or a
community health centre for emergency contraception.

Glossary:

Cervical mucous – The fluid produced by the cervix. The mucous changes at different times of the
menstrual cycle. Around the time of ovulation, the mucous is clear and slippery.

Cervix – The lower part of the uterus that opens into the vagina.

Emergency Contraception – A medication used to avoid pregnancy after sex when you didn’t use birth
control or the birth control didn’t work (for example, the condom broke).

Menstrual Period/Menstruation – The discharge of blood from the uterus in females after puberty
starts.

Ovaries – The two female organs that store and release egg cells and produce the hormones estrogen
and progesterone.

Ovum (egg cell) – The female reproductive cell; a cell is the basic building block of all living things.

Sperm – The male reproductive cell; carried out of the penis in the semen during ejaculation.

Uterus – A pear-shaped, hollow organ with muscular walls. The fetus grows in the uterus during pregnancy.The uterus is also called the “womb”.

Vagina – The muscular tube that connects the cervix to the outside of the female body; where the
menstrual blood comes out from the uterus, where a baby comes out from the uterus during childbirth,
and where a penis or sex toy can go in for vaginal intercourse.

SERC believes that all individuals have the right to access unbiased sexual and reproductive health information and services. They must also have the opportunity to explore their values and attitudes in making informed choices that are most appropriate for them, and have those choices respected and supported. SERC supports and defends a pregnant person’s right to choose parenting, adoption, or abortion.

Developed in collaboration with Klinic Community Health and Literacy Partners of Manitoba 2007
Sexuality Education Resource Centre 2016