The ring is a soft plastic ring put in the vagina.

It releases two hormones (oestrogen and progestogen) which are similar to the body's own hormones.

Each ring lasts for three weeks.



  • Easy to use – one ring lasts three weeks
  • It doesn’t interrupt sex
  • The ring is good at preventing pregnancy
  • Periods will usually be lighter
  • The ring helps to reduce period pain
  • Control over pattern of periods (regular or no periods)
  • Easy to know and to control when a period will come
  • The ring can help with acne
  • It can help treat symptoms of Endometriosis, PCOS and Menopause
  • It protects against womb, ovarian cancer and colorectal cancer


  • Need to remember once a month
  • No protection against STIs

Possible side effects when first starting:

  • Spotting (bleeding in between periods)
  • Nausea (feeling sick)
  • Sore breasts

Other possible side effects:

  • Changes in mood or sex drive
  • Feeling more hungry
  • Headaches

Extremely rare side effects:

  • Blood clots in the legs or lungs (5-12 in 10,000)

The ring is easy to put in

It finds a comfortable position, and doesn't need to be put anywhere particular in the vagina. It's just a different way of absorbing the hormones

Most people don’t put on weight

It can make some people feel more hungry. Most stay the same weight – 1 in 10 put on weight, and 1 in 10 lose weight while they are on the ring

Some users notice bigger breasts

You don’t need a break from hormones

It’s safe to use from your teenage years up to the age of 50 (for most people)

The ring doesn’t suit everyone

Some people love it, and some might experience moodiness, hunger, nausea, or less desire for sex

The body doesn't need to have a period once a month, and you can control when you have a period

It’s safe to miss periods by using several rings in a row without a break –blood doesn’t build up inside since the womb lining stays thin, and it can help people feel more energetic if they are not losing iron every month. Find out more about periods here

The ring does not cause infertility

When you come off the ring, fertility returns to normal, meaning that it’s possible to get pregnant within a few days or weeks. It’s important to know that it’s less easy to get pregnant as you get older – it’s harder to get pregnant over the age of 35. Find out more about infertility here

Lots of people are on the ring for its benefits

Many find the ring fantastic for controlling period pain, and to level out moodiness of premenstrual tension. The ring is also used to treat some of the symptoms associated with Endometriosis and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).

The ring can also be used to treat menopausal symptoms, like hot flushes and vaginal dryness in people under 50.

What's right for you?

Good to know

The ring is easy to use - it's gently put into the vagina, and it finds a comfortable position. It doesn't need to be put over the cervix (like the diagphragm)

If you want to miss a period, it’s safe to use rings one after another with no break. Using the ring back to back can also help avoid some pre-menstrual symptoms e.g. bloating, headache, tiredness, period pain, and mood changes.

How much bother is the ring?

You put the vaginal ring into the vagina for three weeks, followed by a ring-free week on the fourth week. A period will usually come during the fourth week, meaning that it’s easy to predict when a period is coming. 

If the ring is used properly it’s really effective, but it can be hard to remember to start using a new one. 

You can get the ring from a GP, family planning/contraception clinics, sexual health clinics. Find out more about where to get the ring here

How effective is the ring?

If the ring is used properly, without taking other medications that could make it less effective, it is more than 99% effective – meaning that if 100 people use the ring for a year, less than one will have an unplanned pregnancy.  However, allowing for the ups and downs of life, the average user can expect it to be around 91% effective – meaning that out of 100 people using the ring for a year, around 9 will have an unplanned pregnancy. 

How does it work?

Using the ring temporarily stops the ovaries from releasing an egg each month.  It also thickens the fluid around the neck of the womb (which stops sperm getting to an egg), and makes the lining of the womb thinner so that a fertilised egg can’t settle and grow. 

If you forget to use a new ring, or if it comes out, you might need an emergency pill, or an emergency copper coil (IUD) (Further information here)

What's right for you?

Does the ring affect my risk of getting cancer?

Breast cancer: Studies have shown a small increased risk of breast cancer in people who use hormonal contraception compared to those who don’t. This increased risk disappears 10 years after stopping the ring.

Cervical cancer: Some studies have shown a small increased risk of cervical cancer if you use a combined hormonal method (pill, patch or ring) for more than 5 years. This increased risk disappears 10 years after stopping the ring.

Ovarian cancer: taking the combined hormonal methods (pill, patch or ring) can lower the risk of ovarian cancer. This benefit persists even after stopping the ring.

Endometrial (womb) cancer: taking the combined hormonal methods (pill, patch or ring) can lower the risk of womb cancer. This benefit persists even after stopping the ring.