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Contraceptive: Vaginal Ring

What is the vaginal ring?

The vaginal ring is a small, soft plastic ring that you put inside your vagina where it fits securely. There are two types of vaginal rings and they both contain hormones – the combined ring contains oestrogen and progestogen; the other type of ring only contains progestogen. The combined ring is more common and is known as the NuvaRing.

The vaginal ring fits securely inside the vagina and continuously releases small amounts of hormones into the bloodstream to prevent pregnancy. 

When used correctly, the vaginal ring has a high chance of preventing pregnancy. The vaginal ring does not prevent STIs and HIV but a male or female condom can.

How does the vaginal ring work?

To prevent pregnancy, the hormones in the vaginal ring stop the ovaries from releasing eggs. The hormones also change the lining of your womb and cervix to stop sperm from reaching the egg.

How often do you need to use the vaginal ring?

You need to insert the vaginal ring once a month. There is more detail on how to use the vaginal ring in the package insert, it is important to read this. Your healthcare provider will also explain how to use the vaginal ring.

How to use the vaginal ring?

You place the ring inside your vagina, almost like inserting a tampon. You wear the ring for three weeks, take it out for the week you have your period, and then put in a new ring. You repeat this process every month. You cannot feel the vaginal ring inside your vagina. If you can feel the ring inside your vagina, simply push it farther up.

Who can use the vaginal ring?

Most women can safely use the vaginal ring for years as a contraception method to protect themselves against pregnancy

Who cannot use the vaginal ring?

You should not use the vaginal ring if:

  • You are breastfeeding and your baby is under 6 months old
  • You have had a blood clot in your legs or lungs, a stroke, or a heart attack
  • You have cancer or have had cancer
  • You smoke and are over 35 years old
  • You are overweight
  • You have liver disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure

Where can you get the vaginal ring?

The vaginal ring is prescribed by a healthcare provider and can be purchased at a pharmacy. The vaginal ring is not yet available at government health facilities.

How much does the vaginal ring cost?

The cost will vary depending on the brand, some brands cost about R170 per month.


  • The vaginal ring protects women against pregnancy on a month-to-month basis and it helps some women with hormone-related acne and makes menstrual periods more regular and less severe. 
  • If you would like to have children someday, you will still be able to get pregnant right after you stop using the vaginal ring. 
  • Your partner can’t see or feel the ring during sexual intercourse


  • You must change the vaginal ring every three weeks — even when you don’t have sex that week.
  • The vaginal ring can fall out of your vagina — don’t worry if this happens, simply wash it with warm water and reinsert it. 

Important points to remember when using the vaginal ring

  • If you are on any medication, please let your healthcare provider know as the vaginal ring may affect your other medication.
  • You might experience irregular bleeding in the first month or two of use. If this occurs, continue to use your vaginal ring but speak to your healthcare provider about it. 
  • Serious side-effects are rare in healthy women who don’t smoke or have medical conditions. Some serious side-effects to look out for include pain in the lower leg, chest pain, severe headaches and difficulty breathing. 
  • Speak to your healthcare provider about your medical history and your risk for developing serious side-effects.

How do I get additional protection against HIV and STIs when using the vaginal ring?

For additional protection against HIV and STIs, different prevention options can be explored, such as PrEP and using a condom. Using condoms and contraception together is what we call “dual protection”. 

Is the vaginal ring your ideal contraceptive? Take the test!

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