How to use the ring

What will you get?

There are 9 rings in each box and these should last 3 months. If it’s your first time using the ring, you’ll usually get a 3-month supply.

After 3 months, you’ll need to book a follow-up appointment where you’ll have your blood pressure checked and discuss any side effects. You can then get enough to last you 6 or 12 months.

When can you start using it? 

You can start using the vaginal ring at any time.

If you use it in the first 5 days of your period, you’re covered immediately because the ring stops ovulation. At this time in your cycle, you haven’t yet started to ovulate and the ring has time to take effect before you ovulate again.

If you start it after the first 5 days of your period, you’ll need to use additional contraception – such as condoms – for the first 7 days, because the ring takes 7 days to stop ovulation.

If there’s a chance you might be pregnant, you should wait until your next period before starting to use the ring. If you have irregular periods, wait 3 weeks after your last pregnancy risk, and then take a pregnancy test. If it’s negative, apply your first ring.

Have you taken emergency contraception this cycle?

When you can start the ring depends on what type of emergency contraception you’ve taken:

  • if you’ve taken levonorgestrel emergency contraception, you can start using the ring straight away 

  • if you've taken ulipristal acetate emergency contraception, leave it 5 days until starting the ring. The ingredient ulipristal acetate can interact with it and make both medications less effective

Either way, take a pregnancy test 3 weeks after starting the ring.

3 ways to use the ring

You can choose to use the contraceptive ring in 1 of 3 ways:

  • with a bleed every month

  • with a break for a bleed a few times a year

  • with no breaks or bleeds at all

To bleed every month

  • insert your ring and wear it for 3 weeks

  • then have 7 days without a ring inserted – during this time, you should have a bleed

  • after 7 days without the ring, insert a new ring (even if you’re still bleeding) and repeat the cycle

To bleed a few times a year or not at all

  • insert your first ring and wear it for 3 weeks

  • continue to change the ring to a new one every 3 weeks without a break

  • when you’re ready, have 7 days without a ring and you should bleed (you can only do this if you’ve used the ring for at least 3 weeks in a row)

What can you do to make the ring most effective?

The biggest pregnancy risk when using the ring comes from forgetting to replace it just before or after a 7-day break. If you don’t use a new ring for 9 days you can start to ovulate, which means it’s possible to get pregnant at that time.

If you’re not confident about keeping track of the break, you could skip it or have a 4-day break instead.

Problems with irregular bleeding

If you use the ring without a break and you get unexpected bleeding that lasts for more than 4 days, then you might want to remove the ring and have a 7 day break before inserting a new one.

Only do this if you’ve already used a ring for 3 weeks continuously.

Everything you wanted to know about sexual health and wellbeing - your questions answered by our expert team.