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What is the contraceptive ring?

The ring is a flexible plastic ring which is placed in the vagina. It contains two hormones – oestrogen and progestogen –  just like the the combined pill – but instead of swallowing a pill, you insert the plastic ring into the vagina. It is over 99% effective, as long as you use it as advised. Women usually get a regular period, but you can control your periods, choosing to miss a period if you want to.  Some people can’t use the ring because of health concerns.

How does the ring work?

Hormones are contained within the ring and are absorbed through the vaginal walls.

These hormones work in three ways:

  • Stopping ovulation.  Ovulation is when you ovaries release an egg each month.
  • Thickening the mucus that comes from your cervix.
  • Making the lining of your womb thinner.

You can access a good leaflet telling you all about the ring here: http://www.fpa.org.uk/contraception-help/contraceptive-vaginal-ring

What are the advantages of having the ring?

  • You don’t have to remember it every day
  • Because it is absorbed through the vagina, it’s not affected by vomiting or diarrhoea.
  • It usually makes your bleeds regular, lighter and less painful
  • It may help with premenstrual symptoms
  • It improves acne in some women

What are the disadvantages of having the ring?

  • Some people don’t feel comfortable inserting and removing it
  • You may get some temporary side effects or irregular bleeding
  • The patch doesn’t protect you from sexually transmitted infections
  • For some people, the patch can cause some serious side effects (see risks below)

Are there any risks having the ring?

For most women, the benefits of the ring far outweigh the risks. We will ask you some questions to make sure it is safe for you. The ring can slightly increase your risk of a thrombosis (blood clot). Research suggests there is a small increase in your risk of breast and cervical cancer.

Where can I get the ring?

You can’t currently get the ring from Unity sexual health or its partner organisations.  You are welcome to come and talk to us about it and your GP may be able to prescribe it, if they feel it is the best method for you.

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