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Birth Control Health Center

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Birth Control: How to Use the Vaginal Ring - Topic Overview

The vaginal ring is a highly effective method of birth control when it is used exactly as directed. The ring failure rate is the same as that of birth control pills.

Talk to your doctor about what day to start using the ring. Usually, a ring is started during one of the first 5 days of the menstrual cycle.

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Under the Affordable Care Act, many health insurance plans will provide free women’s preventive services, including mammograms, birth control and well-woman visits. Learn more.

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See a picture of the vaginal hormonal ring camera.gif.

The ring cannot be incorrectly inserted. Its exact position in the vagina is not critical for it to work because the ring is not a barrier contraceptive. The ring is left in place during sexual intercourse. It is replaced with a new one every 4 weeks.

  • Note the day that you insert a new vaginal ring. Leave the ring in place for 3 weeks.
  • To take a 1-week break to have a menstrual period, remove the ring on the same day of the week that you inserted the ring 3 weeks before.
  • Insert a new ring on the same day of the week as you did 4 weeks ago.

If you forget and leave the ring in place for more than 4 weeks, remove it and use a barrier method of birth control (such as a condom) until a new ring has been in place for 7 days. Discuss this with your doctor. A pregnancy test may be recommended.

Insertion and removal of the ring is similar to using a diaphragm, except the ring is left in place for 3 weeks. Simply use your fingers to tuck it into your vagina and later to hook or grasp it and pull it out.

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