Vaginal ring

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The vaginal ring is a practical and accessible contraceptive. Find out how it works, how to insert it, and its pros and cons.

What is it?

The vaginal ring is a hormonal contraception method. It is a flexible, transparent plastic ring that you insert deep into your vagina. It releases low doses of oestrogen and progesterone (the same hormones as in the contraceptive pill). Like the contraceptive pill, the vaginal ring works in three ways. 1) It prevents your ovaries from releasing ova. 2) It thickens your cervical mucus (a viscous substance secreted by your cervix), which prevents sperm from entering your uterus. 3) It thins the lining of the uterus. If an egg is fertilized, it cannot implant itself in the uterus’ walls.


You must wear the ring for 21 days, and then remove it for 7 days to get your period. Afterwards, you insert a new ring. The vaginal ring is prescribed by your doctor. In Quebec, a specialized nurse 👩⚕ can also prescribe it for six months.


How do I use the vaginal ring?

To use the vaginal ring, you insert it into your vagina with your fingers. After washing your hands, sit down in a comfortable position. Fold the ring in two, hold it between your fingers, and slide it into your vagina.


The exact position of the ring inside your vagina isn’t important since it’s the hormones it releases that give the ring its contraceptive effect. If you feel some discomfort after inserting it, try to push it up further. You don’t have to worry that you might push it too far or lose it, since your vagina is a closed space without any exit. You can also wear a tampon or a menstrual cup along with the ring.


If the ring is expelled from your vagina, you can simply rinse it with warm water and re-insert it. If the ring is taken out for more than three hours, it will lose its effectiveness. If this is the case, click here to find out what to do.


👍 Advantages

  • The ring may make your periods more regular, lighter, and less painful.
  • You have less of a risk of forgetting it compared to the pill since it’s always there.
  • Its cost is covered by the Quebec health insurance plan.


👎 Disadvantages

  • You need to know your body well and develop a certain skill at inserting the ring into your vagina.
  • The ring doesn’t protect you against sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections (STBBIs).
  • You may feel the ring during penetration. If this is the case, you can remove the ring during intercourse and re-insert it immediately after you’re finished, rinsing it first with warm water. This method will remain effective because your body will have stored up enough hormones to protect you from an unwanted pregnancy. But be careful, you can only remove the ring for a maximum of three hours, otherwise it will lose its effectiveness.


Don’t forget that you can get pregnant even when you’re menstruating. It’s best to use a condom if you have intercourse during the week your ring is removed.


To find out more about this method, its advantages and disadvantages, consult with your doctor or a nurse.


Sources : FQPN; S.O.S Grossesse [French only]

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