Women today have many birth control options. One option is NuvaRing, a contraceptive vaginal ring. NuvaRing is one of the most effective and user-friendly birth control methods on the market. This article answers common questions about NuvaRing. It provides key information to consider if you’re thinking about using this birth control method.

Below are some common questions about NuvaRing, including how it works, how to wear it, and more. Read on for the answers.

Q: What is NuvaRing?

NuvaRing is a lightweight, flexible, plastic ring that you insert into your vagina once a month. You keep it in place for three weeks and then remove it for one week, which is when you’ll likely get your period. A week after you remove the ring, you insert a new ring and start the cycle again.

Q: How do I insert and remove NuvaRing?

It’s very simple to insert and remove NuvaRing. Before you insert the ring, talk with your doctor about the best time in your monthly cycle to start using NuvaRing.

To insert NuvaRing

  1. Wash and dry your hands. Open the resealable NuvaRing pouch and remove the ring. Keep the pouch to dispose of your ring later.
  2. Fold the ring in half so that two sides of the ring are touching.
  3. Insert the ring as far as you can into your vagina. You may need to use your index finger to push it deeper into your vagina. Don’t worry, there’s no risk of losing the ring or pushing it in too far. It doesn’t have to be in a certain position to work, either.
  4. Relax. You’re done!

To remove NuvaRing

  1. Find the resealable foil pouch that came with your NuvaRing.
  2. Wash and dry your hands.
  3. Gently insert your index finger into your vagina and hook it into the ring.
  4. Slowly pull the ring out of your vagina.
  5. Place the ring into the foil pouch. Throw the pouch away in the trash.

Q: Will I feel NuvaRing once it’s in place?

Some women can feel it, but most women don’t feel NuvaRing if they inserted it correctly.

Q: How does NuvaRing work?

NuvaRing contains synthetic (man-made) forms of the female hormones estrogen and progesterone. These are the same types of hormones that birth control pills contain. These hormones help prevent pregnancy in several ways.

Preventing ovulation

Ovulation is when one of your ovaries releases an egg. If you don’t ovulate, sperm will not be able to fertilize an egg.

Thickening your cervical mucus

Cervical mucus is a substance your body secretes near your cervix. Thick mucus makes it harder for sperm cells to swim through the vaginal canal. This means it would be difficult for sperm to reach an egg if your body released one.

Changing your endometrium

The endometrium is the lining of your uterus. Changes to this lining make it harder for a fertilized egg to implant in it.

Note: NuvaRing only works to prevent pregnancy. It does not protect against HIV or other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Q: What are the side effects of NuvaRing?

NuvaRing can cause certain side effects. Some of these effects are temporary and only occur as your body adjusts to the ring’s hormones. However, if your side effects are severe or don’t go away after a few months, call your doctor.

More common side effects

These side effects can include the following:

  • irritation of your vagina or cervix
  • headache
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • increased vaginal discharge
  • weight gain
  • breast tenderness
  • decreased sex drive
  • vaginal spotting (light bleeding)

Serious side effects

Rarely, women have serious side effects from using NuvaRing. In some cases, these problems can be fatal (cause death). Serious side effects from NuvaRing can include:

  • blood clots
  • toxic shock syndrome
  • high blood pressure
  • liver problems

Symptoms of these effects can include:

  • leg pain that doesn’t go away
  • shortness of breath
  • pain or pressure in your chest
  • sudden and severe headache
  • yellowing of your skin and the whites of your eyes
  • sudden high fever with vomiting, diarrhea, sunburn-like rash, and muscle aches

Call your doctor right away if you have any of these symptoms. If your symptoms are severe, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room.

Q: What are the risk factors for problems with NuvaRing?

NuvaRing may not be the best choice for all women, especially if they have certain risk factors. One of the more serious possible side effects with NuvaRing is blood clots. These are rare, but if they occur, they can be serious and even fatal. Risk factors for blood clots from NuvaRing include:

  • being older than 35 years of age
  • smoking cigarettes
  • having a history of:
    • blood clots, stroke, or heart attack
    • migraine headaches with aura
    • blood clotting problems

To learn about other risk factors or to find out if NuvaRing is a safe option for you, talk with your doctor. Be sure to discuss your full health history, especially if you have any of the risk factors listed above.

Q: What should I do if my NuvaRing comes out?

That depends on how long the ring has been outside of your body. If the ring has been out of your vagina for less than 3 hours, rinse the ring in lukewarm water and reinsert it right away. If the ring has been out of your vagina for more than 3 hours, use a back-up method of birth control and call your doctor for further advice. NuvaRing may not protect you against pregnancy if you stop wearing it for more than 3 hours. Your doctor will tell you when you should insert a new ring.

Q: Can I take out NuvaRing during sex?

If you prefer, you can remove the ring for up to 3 hours during sex. Be sure to do this no more than one time in a 24-hour period. Also, be sure to rinse the ring with lukewarm water before putting it back in.

Q: Will my partner or I be able to feel NuvaRing during sex?

If you inserted NuvaRing properly, you probably won’t be able to feel it during intercourse. Your partner may be able to feel it, but most people report that it doesn’t bother them.

Q: How well does NuvaRing work?

When used exactly as directed, NuvaRing is 98 percent effective in preventing pregnancy. However, it’s about 91 percent effective with typical use. The more closely you follow the instructions on the package, the more effective NuvaRing should be.

NuvaRing is a simple, easy-to-use, and effective form of birth control for women. To learn more about it, talk with your doctor. Discuss your health history, any medications or supplements you take, and your birth control preferences. Your doctor can help determine if NuvaRing is a good choice for you.