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Combined Hormoral Vaginal Ring

What is it?

The combined hormonal vaginal ring is a flexible plastic ring about 2 inches (5.4 cm) in diameter and about 1/8" thick (4 mm). You can easily insert the ring into the vagina where it stays for 3 weeks releasing two hormones, oestrogen and progestogen.

Not everyone can use the vaginal ring so your doctor or nurse will need to ask you about your own and your family's medical history, any medicines you take (including herbal remedies) and whether you smoke.

You don't need a breast or vaginal examination before you can start the vaginal ring.

All our clinics stock vaginal rings and you will usually leave with supply.

You can get the vaginal ring free of charge from your GP or any Sandyford clinic.

How effective is it?

Contraceptive use can either be perfect (always correct) or typical (more accurate, as it’s sometimes difficult to use contraception correctly every time).
With typical use of the combined vaginal ring, approximately 8 in 100 people become pregnant within the first year of use.

What makes it less effective?

  • If you are late in re-inserting the ring following your ring free week.
  • If you keep one ring in for more weeks than advised.
  • If the ring is out of your vagina more than 3 hours.

Some medications including some complementary medicines can make your contraceptive ring less effective; always tell your doctor, dentist or chemist.  

What are the advantages?

  • You don't have to think about it every day - you only have to remember to replace it every 3 weeks.
  • You only use one ring a month.
  • It is easy to insert and remove. It doesn’t have to be removed before sex. You or your partner may feel the ring during sex, however it doesn’t tend to be uncomfortable for most people.
  • The effectiveness of the ring is not affected if you vomit or have diarrhoea, unlike the pill.  
  • It usually makes your periods regular, lighter and less painful.
  • It possibly protects against cancer of the ovary, endometrium, uterus and colon and some pelvic infections.
  • May help with premenstrual symptoms.
  • Gives the option to avoid having your period at inconvenient times.
  • Protects against cancer of the ovary, uterus and colon.
  • May reduce risk of fibroids, ovarian cysts and non-cancerous breast disease.
  • Can help to improve spotty skin.

Are there any disadvantages?

  • Some women may not feel comfortable inserting and removing the ring.
  • You may get some temporary side effects when you first start using the patch, these should stop within a few months. They can include headaches, feeling sick, breast tenderness, mood swings or your appetite may be increased.
  • A very small number of women may develop blood clots (thrombosis), heart attack or stroke.
  • Small increased risk of breast cancer, which disappears with time after stopping the patch.
  • Breakthrough bleeding (unexpected vaginal bleeding on patch using days) sometimes called spotting, is common in the first months of use.
  • The combined vaginal ring protects you from pregnancy but not sexually transmitted infections.

Only condoms can provide protection against most infections.

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