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THE RING

The ring (brand name: NuvaRing) is a small, bendable ring that you insert into your vagina. (It kind of looks like one of those jelly bracelets from the 80s, but it feels a tiny bit stiffer.) You leave it in place for three weeks at a time, then take it out for the fourth week. The ring works by giving off hormones that prevent your ovaries from releasing eggs. The hormones also thicken your cervical mucus, which helps to block sperm from getting to the egg in the first place. view all methods »

Comfortable with your body

If you're not okay with putting your fingers inside yourself, the ring probably isn't for you. It's a lot like putting in a tampon, though: If you can do that, you're good to go.

Relatively little effort each month

If you're the kind of person who would have trouble remembering to take a pill every day, the ring might be a good option. You only need to remember to do something twice a month. And we can help you with that.

Storage and privacy

If you’re storing the ring for more than 4 months, it needs to be stored in the refrigerator. So if you don’t want your boyfriend (or anyone else) to know you’re using it, this could be a problem. (And if you’re running errands in a hot car, refrigeration can be an issue as well.) Also, some guys say they can feel the ring when you’re having sex.

A lower dose of hormones

The ring uses a lower dose of hormones than other methods, so there's less chance of negative side effects.

Smokers over 35, beware

For those over 35 years old, smoking while using the ring increases the risk of certain side effects. If you’re younger, why not quit smoking now and save yourself the trouble in the future?

The pregnancy question

You'll return to fertility (that's just another way of saying you'll go back to being able to get pregnant) pretty darn quickly after you go off the ring. So don't take any chances. If you're not ready for a baby, protect yourself.

Don't take our word for it. Check out the videos above to hear women and men talk about their experiences with the ring. And be sure to ask your health care provider which method is best for you.

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, if you have health insurance, chances are good that you’ll be able to get this method with no out-of-pocket cost.

If you don’t have insurance and you’re not on Medicaid, the ring will cost you about $55 a month—more than most prescription methods. But you only have to deal with it once a month when it needs to be replaced.

Prices:*


The ring is really pretty easy to use. All you need to remember is the schedule for inserting and removing the ring—and we can help you with that.

ring insertion using the twist method

How to put it in

First off, wash your hands. To put in the ring, just squish it between your thumb and index finger, and insert it like a tampon. It’ll sit tucked up against the side of your vaginal wall. The exact position doesn’t really matter, as long as you’re comfortable. You don’t even need to take it out when you’re having sex. (But if you want to take it out during sex, that’s cool, too. Just make sure to put it back in within three hours, and do this only once out of every 24 hours.)

How to take it out

Once you insert the ring, leave it in for three weeks. Take it out for the fourth week, then insert a new ring and start the cycle again. (To take the ring out, hook your finger on the lower edge and pull. Simple as that.)

When the ring is out, you’ll probably get your period. If you’re still bleeding when it’s time to put the ring back in, don’t worry. That’s totally normal.

There are positive and negative things to say about each and every method. And everyone's different—so what you experience may not be the same as what your friend experiences.

The Positive

Positive “side effects”? You bet. There are actually lots of things about birth control that are good for your body as well as your sex life.

The Negative

Everyone worries about negative side effects, but for most women, they're not a problem. Remember, you're introducing hormones into your body, so it can take a few months to adjust. Give it time.

  • Easy to use—it's just like putting in a tampon
  • Doesn't interrupt the heat of the moment
  • Might give you shorter, lighter periods
  • May clear up acne
  • Can reduce menstrual cramps and PMS
  • Offers protection against some nasty health problems, like endometrial and ovarian cancer, iron deficiency anemia, ovarian cysts, and pelvic inflammatory disease
Things that will probably go away after two or three months:
  • Bleeding in between periods
  • Breast tenderness
  • Nausea and vomiting
Things that may last longer:
  • Increased vaginal discharge, irritation, or infection
  • A change in your sex drive

If you still feel uncomfortable after three months, switch methods and stay protected. You're worth it.

*For a very small number of women there are risks of serious side effects.

We’re here to get this method working better for you. And if it still doesn’t feel right, we've got ideas for other methods. Just remember: If you change methods, make sure you’re protected while you switch.

  • ...I'm tired of inserting it.

    A once-a-month method like the ring requires less effort than many other options out there, but there are certainly other effective methods that require even less work.

    Still not working?

    If inserting something once a month is too much for you, perhaps you want to think about something you can forget about for years, like the implant or IUD.

    Try a different method...

  • ...I'm getting vaginal discharge.

    The extra discharge you are experiencing from using the ring is probably normal. After a couple of cycles, this discharge may go back to normal.

    Also, the ring may protect you from a bacterial infection that can occur in the vagina called bacterial vaginosis (BV).

    If you’re concerned that the vaginal discharge that you’re experiencing may be caused by an infection, visit your health care provider.

    Still not working?

    If it sticks around and really bothers you, think about something you don't insert in your vagina. You could try the pill or patch (if you like regular periods), or the shot (if you don't mind irregular or nonexistent periods).

    Try a different method...

  • ... It's always slipping out.

    There’s a chance you’re not inserting the ring correctly.

    Try this: Use an empty tampon inserter to push it in all the way.

    Still not working?

    If you tried the ol' tampon trick and it’s still an issue, look into a form of birth control you won’t need to insert yourself. Think about the shot, implant, or an IUD.

    Try a different method...

  • ...It's too expensive.

    Since we don't exactly know what you're paying now, we'll cover a few scenarios to see if we can help you out:

    If you're on Medicaid, the ring might be free for you. If you have private insurance, it's probably covered for no more than your co-pay.

    If those aren't options for you, check with the family planning clinics around you and find out if they offer free or low-cost birth control. Most do.

    Another solution might be to ask your partner to help pay for the expense.

    You could also check the NuvaRing website for discounts and coupons.

    Still not working?

    If you find it's still just too expensive, you have other options. Some varieties of the pill (generics, in particular) may be cheaper than the ring (no generic ring yet!), but don't forget that you need to take the pill every single day.

    Try a different method...

  • ...My partner says he feels the ring when we have sex.

    You can always pull the ring out when you’re getting busy. Just be sure to rinse it with cool water and reinsert it within 3 hours. And only do that once within a 24-hour time period.

    Still not working?

    If you want a method that you don't have to remember daily, you won't have to remove in the moment, and that your partner won't feel during sex, you might want to go with the implant, shot, or patch.

    Try a different method...

  • ...I heard that taking the pill is bad for the environment because of lady pee getting in the water.

    Any form of birth control is better than no birth control when it comes to the environment. But let’s look a little closer at the claim that hormones in birth control are getting into the environment through lady pee. The simple answer is: yes, it is. But—and this is a big but—it is small compared to other sources of estrogen.

    Current research finds that the contribution of EE2 (the primary active ingredient in the pill, the ring, the patch, and the shot) to the total amount of estrogen in of our waterways is small. Bigger—much bigger—sources of estrogen in the environment come from industrial and manufacturing processes; agricultural fertilizers and pesticides; the drugs we give livestock; and the waste and runoff produced by these sources.

    Simply removing hormones from contraceptives will not eliminate the environmental impacts of estrogenic compounds. It’s much better to buy organic (if you can!) and even better to tell Congress to do its job and regulate chemicals, than to forego birth control. From Mother Earth’s standpoint, any form of birth control is better than no birth control.

    For purists who don’t want to add any hormones to the environment or to their body, no matter how small, there are options for you. Natural latex condoms and the copper IUD are two frequently cited examples of ultra green contraceptives. But whatever your decision, decide on a method and don’t give up.

    Still not working?

    If you'd like to use a super effective method without any hormones, try the ParaGard IUD.

    Try a different method...

quick facts /

  • Easy to insert, works like the pill, keeps you protected for a month at a time.

  • The ring's really effective when used perfectly, but many find it tough to be perfect.

  • Most common—yet temporary—effects are irregular bleeding, sore boobs, nausea.

  • Ring in. Wait 3 weeks. Ring out. Wait 1 week. Repeat.

Free birth control and appointment reminders.

effectiveness

Perfect use
Greater than99%
Typical use
91%
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