What is the birth control Ring?


The birth control Ring is a pretty good method. It’s 99.7% effective when used perfectly, but since you have to manage it yourself, there is room for error, so with typical use, it’s only 91% effective. It requires less maintenance compared to the Pill or Patch. You need to change it every 3-4 weeks, which is better than every day or week. It is not as good as the Shot, which you need to re-dose every 3 months, or the Implant/Rod and IUD, which last for years without you needing to do anything once they’re put in.


It is a small, soft, hollow plastic ring. It comes in a packet that needs to be refrigerated until it’s opened. You do need to put it into your vagina yourself. You can ask your doctor if (s)he can put in your first one, but it’s generally pretty easy to do it yourself. After washing your hands, squat or sit comfortably. Then squeeze the ring so it looks like a narrow figure 8 and gently insert it. Like a tampon, you should not be able to feel it once it’s in. If you do feel it, try pushing it in farther.

birth control ring
birth control ring

The Ring contains both estrogen (ethinyl estradiol) and progesterone (etonorgestrel). Brand name “Nuvaring.” Because it contains estrogen, it would not be safe to use for certain groups of women (such as smokers over age 35 and those who just delivered a baby less than 4-6 weeks ago). Click here to learn more about estrogen vs. estrogen-free birth controls.


It delivers a steady amount of both hormones, so it stops you from ovulating (ovaries releasing an egg every month) and having real periods. You can still have a “fake” period every month if you want to, though. The typical recommended instructions are to take the Ring out after 3 weeks of using it, and let yourself have a fake “period” for the last (4th) week. Then put a new one in for another 3 weeks.


You can choose to skip this fake “period” and just leave the Ring in for this last week. Then you would change to a new one after 4 weeks. Some women like the feeling of having a period every month, and others do not. It’s completely up to you.


Contrary to popular belief, you do NOT need to have a period every month to “clean everything out”!! There is NO HARM to your health to never have periods again! All hormonal birth control thins the lining of your uterus, so cells do not build up as much.


There can be an adjustment period to the hormones, however, and you can have irregular spotting/bleeding during this time. It can take several months to adjust. Also, if you keep skipping periods, at some point you may have some “Breakthrough Bleeding”/spotting, which means bleeding despite using the added hormones. If it bothers you, you can do a sort of reset by giving your body 1 week without added hormones.


Like all other hormonal birth control methods, you need to wait at least 7 days for it to take effect. You are not protected from pregnancy until after 7 days of using this! So use backup methods such as condoms, abstinence, or even overlapping with certain previous hormonal birth control methods.


You can simply leave it in during sex; it should not interfere much. If you do want to take it out, you can, but it cannot be outside of your body for longer than 3 hours in a 24-hour period. If it’s been out too long, you would no longer be protected against pregnancy and would need to wait another 7 days for it to take effect.


If you use the same Ring for longer than 4 weeks, the hormones will have run out and you are also no longer protected from pregnancy. Put a new one in or use another method as soon as possible, and don’t forget you’ll have to wait 7 days again for it to take effect.


That’s it for the Ring! As always, feel free to message me with any questions or concerns!


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Who am I?
Hi! I'm Dr. Toni, a carTOONIst. I empower, educate and advocate for women and minorities through my art and coaching, while traveling nomadically. I help others also follow our hearts and live true to themselves, no matter what others say!
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