Nuvaring the vaginal birth control ring sitting on a pink and blue geometric background

The Vaginal Ring for Birth Control

By Kathleen Morrison
December 13, 2023

You can now get NuvaRing, the vaginal birth control ring, from Wisp! Unlike birth control pills that require you to take a pill every day, the ring is inserted vaginally and keeps you protected from pregnancy for an entire month. No need to set daily reminders, or remember to pack your pills when you travel—just insert your ring and stay protected all month long. Read on to learn more about how NuvaRing works and how you can order it easily online with Wisp!

What is the vaginal ring?

The vaginal ring, also referred to as “the ring,” is a form of prescription birth control that consists of a small, flexible ring inserted into your vagina and remains in place for the rest of the month. Like most types of birth control pills, it contains both estrogen and progesterone to control your cycle and prevent pregnancy. These hormones are released slowly throughout the month and are absorbed into your body through the vaginal lining. There are currently three different types of vaginal birth control rings approved for use in the US—NuvaRing, EluRyng, and Annovera. You can order NuvaRing online through Wisp for same day pick up at your local pharmacy.

How does the vaginal ring work?

NuvaRing is a form of contraception that steadily releases hormones (estrogen and progesterone) throughout the month. Estrogen works to prevent ovulation and progesterone thickens cervical mucus to stop sperm from entering the cervix. It also thins the lining of your uterus, so a fertilized egg can’t implant itself. When used correctly and consistently, the ring is more than 99% effective at preventing pregnancy.

Who should not use a vaginal ring for birth control?

Using a vaginal ring can carry some health risks. You should avoid using the ring if you:

  • Smoke and are over age 35
  • Have blood clots
  • Have had breast, uterine or liver cancer
  • Have had a heart attack or circulatory problems
  • Get migraines with aura (seeing flashing lights or zigzags)
  • Have high blood pressure
  • Have unmanaged diabetes
  • Have liver disease
  • Have unexplained vaginal bleeding
  • Take medicines that interact with the vaginal ring

Your Wisp provider will be able to let you know if NuvaRing is the best form of birth control for you!

Birth control pills vs. the birth control ring?

Birth control pills are one of the most common methods of birth control in the US. They are easy to take and can be easily stopped at any time, unlike implants methods like Nexplanon or the IUD. The ring can offer the best of both worlds—no need to remember daily pills, while still being simple to insert and remove. Some of the benefits users experience with the vaginal ring are:

  • Easy to use and comfortable to wear
  • You don’t have to remember to take it daily
  • It’s flexible enough to fit all vaginas
  • It’s safe for people with latex allergies
  • It can be removed at any time if you wish to get pregnant
  • It’s discreet—insert it in the bathroom and you’re good to go

Is the ring hard to insert?

The ring is simple to insert and it will get easier with practice!

To insert:

  • Wash and dry your hands before removing the contraceptive vaginal ring from the foil pouch. 
  • Open the pouch at either notch on the top
  • Keep the pouch so you can place your used contraceptive vaginal ring in it before discarding
  • Choose a position that’s comfortable for you—lying, squatting, or standing
  • Hold the contraceptive vaginal ring between your thumb and index finger and press the sides of the ring together to fold 
  • Insert the folded contraceptive vaginal ring into your vagina and push it gently into the vagina with your index finger
  • The contraceptive vaginal ring does not have to be in an “exact position” for it to work
    • The contraceptive vaginal ring may move around slightly within the vagina, this is normal. Most people don’t feel the vaginal ring once it’s in place
  • If the contraceptive vaginal ring is uncomfortable you may not have pushed it far enough into the vagina. Use your index finger to gently push in the vaginal ring further.

If you have severe pain during or after insertion and you cannot find the contraceptive vaginal ring in your vagina, call your in-person healthcare provider right away.

To remove:

  • Wash and dry your hands
  • Choose a position that’s most comfortable for you- lying, squatting, or standing
  • Place your index finger into your vagina and hook it through the contraceptive vaginal ring
  • Gently pull downward and forward to remove the vaginal ring and pull it out
  • Place the used contraceptive vaginal ring in the resealable foil pouch and discard in a trash can out of reach of children and pets

What do I do if the ring comes out?

While the ring will sit securely when it’s placed correctly, there may be times that you need to remove the ring, or it may come out on its own. Don’t worry! We’ve got you covered.

If your contraceptive vaginal ring breaks or comes out of the vagina

  • If the contraceptive vaginal ring breaks and slips out, discard the broken ring and insert a new contraceptive vaginal ring
  • If you accidentally pull out your contraceptive vaginal ring while using a tampon, rinse the ring in (not hot) water and insert it again right away

If the contraceptive vaginal ring is expelled from the vagina

  • Less than 3 hours: rinse the ring in (not hot) water and insert it again right away
  • More than 3 hours:
    • Weeks 1-2: You may not be protected from pregnancy. Reinsert the ring as soon as you remember and use a back-up method, like condoms, for 1 week
    • Week 3: Dispose of the contraceptive vaginal ring, use a back-up method for 7 days, and insert a new ring right away and leave in the vagina for 3 weeks before allowing a menstrual cycle OR allow a ring-free week to allow a menstrual cycle. Make sure to insert a new ring no later than 7 days from the time the previous ring was removed or expelled (you should only use this option if your vaginal ring was in place for a full 7 days prior to removal or expulsion)

Can I skip my period with the ring?

There is no medically indicated reason you need to have a menstrual cycle while you’re on hormonal contraceptives (this is true for any type of monophasic birth control that has a steady dose of hormones). The vaginal ring provides the same consistent daily dosage of estrogen and progesterone to suppress ovulation and provide pregnancy prevention while keeping your uterine lining thin. The cycles that you experience during the week your vaginal ring is removed are called withdrawal bleeds. As the hormones in your body are declining this signals a period, or withdrawal bleed, to allow you to have a cycle. To skip your cycles on the contraceptive vaginal ring, you’ll simply leave the vaginal ring in the vagina for 4 weeks instead of removing the ring after 3 weeks. You’ll have enough hormones in the vaginal ring to provide sufficient pregnancy prevention for the full 4 weeks. Skipping your cycles on birth control has no impact on your future fertility or risk for cancers. You’re in control!

Does NuvaRing have side effects?

The ring is a form of hormonal contraception that can cause many of the same side effects as the birth control pill. In addition to hormonal side effects like acne, mood changes, and changes in sex drive, and changes to your period, you may also experience vaginal and cervical irritation, vaginal discharge, and an increased risk of yeast infections. Talk to your doctor if you experience any of these side effects—there may be steps you can take to help reduce their impact.

NuvaRing is now conveniently available online through Wisp! Pick it up at your local pharmacy and start taking control of your cycle without daily pills.

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