The vaginal ring is a method of contraception.
The vaginal ring is a thin, flexible ring made from plastic. It contains the same two hormones as the contraceptive pill.
These hormones prevent ovulation. They also make it more difficult for sperm cells to reach the mucous membrane of the cervix. The sperm cells will then have difficulties reaching the uterus, where the egg cell is located. The hormones also interfere with the implantation of an egg cell.
Use a vaginal ring as follows:
- Squeeze the ring.
- Insert the ring deep into the vagina. You can insert the ring from various positions, for instance, by standing with one leg raised, lying down or squatting.
- Put one finger inside the vagina and push the ring deep into the vagina. The ring should sit comfortably. The exact position in the vagina is not important.
- The ring stays in place when having sexual intercourse. You can remove the vaginal ring during sexual intercourse, but you need to insert it again within 3 hours.
- To remove the ring, put your finger into your vagina and hook it through the ring. Gently pull the ring out.
- Use the ring continuously for three weeks. Remove the ring on the same day of the week as you inserted it (for instance, Wednesday). Then throw the ring in a bin.
- For the next seven days (1 week), do not use the vaginal ring. This week, you will start to bleed (menstrual period). You are also protected from getting pregnant within this week.
- After seven days, insert a new ring, even if you are still bleeding.
- Repeat the previous steps.
You can also insert the vaginal ring using an applicator instead of your finger.
The vaginal ring is very reliable if used correctly.
The vaginal ring is not reliable or is less reliable, if:
- You are taking certain medicines such as St John’s wort. Tell your healthcare provider you are using the vaginal ring. They will take this into account when prescribing medicines.
- If you forget to insert the vaginal ring after the 7-day break, or if you forget to change the ring.
- If you lose the vaginal ring during sexual intercourse and do not insert it again within 3 hours.
The vaginal ring can be used for up to 4 months from the day you bought it in a pharmacy.
The vaginal ring contains hormones. These hormones usually do not affect your health. However, in some cases, it is better to choose a different method of contraception. Ask a doctor or midwife for advice.
The vaginal ring does not make you less fertile. If you want to get pregnant, you remove the vaginal ring.
During the first months of using the vaginal ring, you may have side effects like headaches, vaginal infections and nausea. These effects usually disappear spontaneously. If they do not disappear, consult a doctor.
Your menstrual periods often become less heavy and less painful.
The vaginal ring does not protect against STIs or HIV. Only a condom can protect you.
In most places in Nigeria, you can buy the vagina ring from a pharmacy without a prescription from the age of 14. In Lagos state, you have to be 18 before you can get it.
If it is available at your public hospital, it will be given to you free of charge. You may, however, have to pay for consumables like gloves if you require help with placing it.