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How Does the Vaginal Ring Work?

How Does the Vaginal Ring Work?

If you’re sexually active but not yet ready for a family, you’re far from alone. Roughly 64% of American women ages 15-49 were using some form of contraception as recently as 2017. 

Common methods include female sterilization, birth control pills, long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs), and condoms. Most of these cause hormonal changes that prevent pregnancy and may have some side effects.

But one method that localizes the hormonal changes is the vaginal ring. It’s safe, effective, very low maintenance, and lower risk than many other options. Let’s examine what a vaginal ring is, how it works, and its benefits.

Women in the Lake Mary, Florida, area looking for birth control options and other gynecological needs can find help with OB/GYN Christopher Quinsey, MD, and our experienced medical team. We’ve been helping women in Florida with their OB/GYN needs for over two decades with a variety of diagnostic and treatment methods.

What is a vaginal ring?

This flexible, plastic ring is approximately 2 inches round. You insert it into your vagina, where it releases hormones (estrogen and progesterone) to prevent pregnancy. It’s available by prescription only and comes under two brand names:


You use this product once monthly for birth control. You insert it for three weeks and remove it for one week during your period. Then you throw it away and replace it with a new ring.


This works similarly to the NuvaRing, but lasts up to a full year. You remove it for your period (which is technically withdrawal bleeding) for a week, reinsert it, and repeat this for 12 months.

You can remove these rings when you decide you want to have a child. While in use, both rings have an over 90% success rate in preventing pregnancy.

How does it work?

Like most hormonal contraceptives, the vaginal ring releases synthetic estrogen and progestin into your bloodstream. This works in three different ways

Using the vaginal ring is simple. During your appointment, we can show you how to insert and remove it.

What are some benefits of using the vaginal ring?

This method of birth control has many benefits, including:

But vaginal rings aren’t for everyone. We may not recommend the vaginal ring if you are older than 35, are sensitive to any of its components, and are a smoker. 

Some health conditions may also make this method a bad choice, including:

Vaginal rings are not a replacement for protection against sexually transmitted diseases, so you should still take the necessary precautions to avoid getting infected. 

Most of our patients have no side effects from the vaginal ring. But possible side effects include breakthrough bleeding or spotting, vaginal irritation or infection, headache, nausea, depression, abdominal pain, breast tenderness, and diarrhea. 

If you think vaginal rings are the form of birth control for you, make an appointment with Dr. Quinsey today to get started.

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