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What is the birth control ring?

The birth control ring (AKA the vaginal ring, or the ring) is a safe and convenient birth control method that works really well if you always use it correctly. You wear a small, flexible ring inside your vagina, and it prevents pregnancy 24/7 by releasing hormones into your body. The ring has lots of other health benefits, too. There are 2 kinds of birth control rings: NuvaRing and ANNOVERA.

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How Does NuvaRing Work?

Each NuvaRing lasts for up to 5 weeks. You take your old NuvaRing out of your vagina and put in a new one about once a month, depending on the ring schedule you choose. You can also use NuvaRing to safely skip your period if you want to. Read more about how to use NuvaRing.

How Does ANNOVERA work?

One ANNOVERA ring lasts for 1 year (13 cycles). You put the ANNOVERA ring in your vagina for 21 days (3 weeks), then take it out for 7 days — ANNOVERA comes with a case to safely store it during your ring-free week. After 7 ring-free days, put ANNOVERA back in your vagina. Read more about how to use ANNOVERA.

How does the birth control ring prevent pregnancy?

The ring works by stopping sperm from joining with an egg (which is called fertilization).

Like most birth control pills, the ring contains the hormones estrogen and progestin. These are similar to the hormones our bodies make naturally. You wear the ring inside your vagina, and you absorb the hormones into your body though your vaginal lining.

The hormones in the ring stop ovulation. No ovulation means there’s no egg hanging around for sperm to fertilize, so pregnancy can’t happen.

The ring’s hormones also thicken the mucus on your cervix. This thicker cervical mucus blocks sperm so it can’t swim to an egg — kind of like a sticky security guard.

How do I make the ring work best for me?

To get the vaginal ring's full birth control powers, you have to use it correctly. Making a mistake — like forgetting to refill your prescription or not putting your ring in on time — is the main reason why people might get pregnant when they’re using the ring.

Here are some ways to help make sure you stay on schedule:

  • Use our birth control reminder app or set an alarm on your phone.

  • Use a calendar to mark the days you need to take out the ring, put in the ring, and get a new ring.

  • Be birth control buddies with friends or family members who also use the ring, and help each other remember.

  • Your partner can help remind you.

It’s also important to take care of your birth control ring properly:

  • Keep your ring(s) in the same place so you don’t lose them.

  • Store NuvaRings at room temperature, and away from direct sunlight for up to 4 months (16 weeks). Keep any NuvaRings that you won’t use within 4 months in the refrigerator.

  • When you take ANNOVERA out, wash the ring with mild soap and lukewarm water, pat it dry with a clean paper towel or cloth, and store it in the case. Keep ANNOVERA away from children, pets, and extreme temperatures when it’s out of your body.

  • When ANNOVERA is in your vagina, don’t use any vaginal products with oil or silicone in them — no oil or silicone-based suppositories, creams, gels, or lubricants. Water-based lubes are OK to use.

Bottom line: do whatever works for you to make sure you use the ring correctly and replace it on time, all the time.

Want to be extra sure you don’t accidentally get pregnant? You can also use a condom every time you have penis-in-vagina sex. That way you’ll be protected against STDs, too.

Does the ring protect against STDs?

Nope. The birth control ring is really good at preventing pregnancy, but it won’t protect you from sexually transmitted infections.

Luckily, using condoms every time you have sex really lowers the chance of getting or spreading STDs. Condoms also protect against pregnancy — so using condoms and the ring together gives you awesome pregnancy-preventing power.

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The Ring

  • 91% effective

  • Costs up to $200, but can be $0

  • Prescription required

  • Change it once a month

The ring doesn’t protect you from STDs. Use a condom with your ring to help stop pregnancy and STDs.
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