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Nuva Ring ®

A vaginal ring is a soft plastic ring that contains two hormones, oestrogen and progestogen. 

You insert it yourself into the vagina, where it is left in place for three weeks and then removed. After one week, a new ring is inserted. 

The vaginal ring is sold as Nuva Ring® in Australia.

How does a vaginal ring work?

Once the ring is placed into the vagina, the two hormones oestrogen and progestogen are absorbed into the body and stop you from getting pregnant. 

These hormones are similar to those naturally produced by the female body and the same as those used in the combined oral contraceptive, known as the pill. 

The hormones stop the ovaries from releasing an egg each month and also thickens the mucus around the cervix to keep sperm from getting into the uterus.

How well does a vaginal ring work?

If used perfectly, the vaginal ring is over 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. If you forget to put a new ring in, use it incorrectly or take certain medications, the effectiveness can reduce to around 93%.

Is the vaginal ring right for me?

Most people can safely use a vaginal ring. However there are some cases where it may not be a suitable option.

You should not use a vaginal ring if you: 

  • have certain types of migraine headaches
  • are overweight
  • are taking certain types of medication
  • are over 35 and smoke
  • have had breast cancer
  • have had a blood clot in the leg (DVT), stroke or heart attack.

You may not be able to use a vaginal ring if you:

  • are breastfeeding
  • have unusual bleeding & the cause is yet to be diagnosed by a doctor
  • have high blood pressure or heart or liver problems
  • have a family history of deep vein blood clot/thrombosis (DVT).

If any of the above apply to you, speak to a doctor to find a contraceptive method that is right for you.

How can I get a vaginal ring?

You will need to make an appointment with your local Family Planning clinic or a GP for an assessment to see if you are suitable to use a vaginal ring. 

If a vaginal ring is right for you, you will be given a prescription (script). 

When you take your prescription to the pharmacy, they will provide you with four vaginal rings at a time. 

The cost depends on whether you have a Medicare and/or a Concession card. The cost of a Nuva Ring® can be more expensive than some brands of the pill. 

Please note: a medical review is required each year for an ongoing prescription.

How do I use a vaginal ring?

You’ll need to remember to take it out and put one in again at the right time. 

The ring stays in for three weeks and then is taken out for one week. At the end of the week, you insert a new one (this means a new ring every four weeks). 

You will experience a monthly bleed (a withdrawal bleed) in the week when there is no ring in place. 

You can choose to skip a period and place a new ring in straight away. This means you will not have a week’s break and you will not get a period.

When should I insert a vaginal ring?

You should insert your first ring on any day in the first five days of your normal cycle (days one to five). 

Day one is the first day of your usual period. If you insert it on days one to five, you will be protected against pregnancy immediately. 

If inserted later than day five, you will need to avoid sex or use a backup method of contraception, such as condoms, for the next seven days.

How do I insert and remove a vaginal ring?

To insert the ring, simply squeeze the ring between thumb and index fingers, and push it up inside you until it’s sitting up against the side of your vaginal wall. 

Putting it in is just the same as using a tampon, but you might find it a little trickier because of its shape. Once it’s in, make sure you’re comfortable with its position. Most users can’t feel the vaginal ring once it is in place. 

Your vaginal muscles will keep it in place, even during exercise and sex.

To remove the vaginal ring, put your finger into your vagina, hook it around the ring and pull it out.

You’ll find more information in the Nuva Ring® packet.

Advantages of a vaginal ring

  • Highly effective if used correctly. 
  • Fertility returns to normal soon after stopping. 
  • You insert it yourself. 
  • There is a predictable and regular bleeding pattern. 
  • Acne can improve.
  • There is a decreased chance of getting cancer of the uterus (womb) and ovaries.
  • Periods usually become lighter and less painful. 
  • Can be used to skip a period. 
  • Can help with symptoms of endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome. 
  • Does not require daily pill taking.

Possible side effects

The vaginal ring is a hormonal contraceptive and side effects may include: 

  • headaches
  • breast tenderness
  • skin changes
  • nausea or bloating
  • mood changes
  • an increase in vaginal discharge. 

Please note that side effects often settle with time.

What could stop a vaginal ring from working?

The vaginal ring may not be effective if: 

  • you forget to insert your new ring after the seven day break
  • you remove it at any other time for longer than 24 hours
  • you are taking certain medication as they may interfere with how well the vaginal ring works.

What if I have forgotten to insert my ring?

If you forget to insert your new vaginal ring, then you need to put another one in as soon as you remember. 

If the ring falls out or has been left out for a period of time: 

  • after rinsing the ring with water, put it back into your vagina immediately
    • if it has been out for less than 24 hours, you will still be protected against pregnancy
    • if it has been out for more than 24 hours, put it back in and avoid sex or use a backup method of contraception, such as condoms, for the next 7 days
    • if the ring has been left out for more than 24 hours during week three, skip the 7 day break and insert a new one immediately

If you are more than 24 hours late inserting a new ring after the ring free week:

  • insert a new ring immediately.
  • avoid sex or use a backup method of contraception, such as condoms, for the next seven days
  • vonsider using emergency contraception if you have had unprotected sex in
  • the previous five days

If you forget to take the ring out after three weeks

  • remove your current ring as soon as you remember
  • put a new one in on the day you were meant to (even if you don’t have a full week’s break). 

If the ring was left in for more than four weeks

  • remove the current ring and put in a new one immediately
  • avoid sex or use another form of contraception (such as condoms) for seven days as you are not protected against pregnancy at this time
  • consider using emergency contraception if you have had unprotected sex in the last five days.

Do I need emergency contraception if I'm late putting my ring in?

If you have unprotected sex within five days of being more than 24 hours late to insert a vaginal ring, you may be at risk of pregnancy. 

Emergency contraception can be used if you had unprotected sex within the last five days. 

Contact us if you are unsure if you need emergency contraception. 

Useful documents

You may find these downloads helpful:

Vaginal Ring factsheet
Vaginal Ring - How To Guide
How effective is my contraception? Factsheet

If you want to know more about which type of contraception might work best for you, or if you have more questions about using a vaginal ring, you can speak with one of our friendly doctors. Click here to find your closest clinic and make an appointment.

This content is provided for general information and education purposes only and does not take into account individual circumstances. It is not to be relied on in substitution for specific advice from a medical professional and Family Planning Tasmania does not accept responsibility for such use. Family Planning Tasmania has taken every effort to ensure that the information is up to date and accurate, however information and knowledge is subject to change. Family Planning Tasmania advises that you always consult a medical professional for individual advice.

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