The Nuva ring or ”the ring” is a plastic ring that is inserted into the vagina and left in place for 3 weeks. It releases hormones that prevent pregnancy.
The ring does not protect against sexually transmitted infections.
Make an appointment at any of our clinics in Greater Victoria to get a prescription, or drop in to buy more rings.
How the Nuva ring works
The ring contains the hormones estrogen and progestin (similar to the birth control pill) which are released in a slow steady dose to prevent pregnancy. The Nuva ring is 99% effective when used perfectly.
It is placed high in the vagina once every 28 days. It is kept in place for 21 days and removed for a 7 day period to permit a withdrawal bleed (period).
The hormones in the ring work much the same way as the birth control pill:
- prevents ovulation (release of an egg)
- builds up the cervical mucus which acts like a barrier to help immobilize sperm
- thins out the lining of the uterus to prevent implantation of a fertilized egg.
Advantages and disadvantages of the Nuva ring
Benefits of the Nuva ring as a birth control method include:
- No need to remember to take a pill every day
- Self-administered, a doctor is not required to fit it, one size fits all
- Private and discreet
- Significant decrease in breakthrough bleeding and spotting compared to the pill or the patch
- Lower dose hormone levels than the pill or patch
- In study trials, 98% of women found it easy to insert and remove
- Most people don’t notice it during intercourse, and those who do, don’t find it a problem.
Possible concerns with using the Nuva ring include:
- The woman must be comfortable touching her genitals
- Rings expire in 4 months after being removed from the fridge (breaking the cold chain) unless they are packed on ice in cooler until they can be put back in the fridge.
- May cause vaginal discomfort for some women
- A small percentage of women may find it uncomfortable during intercourse (so it may be removed fo rup to 3 hrs, rinsed and reinserted)
- Not suitable for women who cannot take the birth control pill for medical reasons
- Not suitable for women who have a prolapsed uterus
Nuva ring side-effects
Possible side effects of the Nuva Ring are similar to the birth control pill: headaches, nausea, breast tenderness, and will usually go away within the first 3 months of use. If not, please contact the clinic.
How to use the Nuva ring
Insert the Nuva Ring within the first 5 days of your period (no later than day 5) even if you haven’t finished your menstrual cycle. Be sure to use a back up method of birth control, such as condoms, for the first 7 days of continuous use.
- Insert one ring into the vagina using any position that is comfortable (i.e., standing with one leg up, lying down or squatting).
- Press the edges of the ring together and place one end into the opening of the vagina. Push the ring high into the vagina. There is no exact position that is crucial for the placement of the ring. As long as you are comfortable, the ring is placed correctly placed. The hormones will be absorbed into the bloodstream regardless of where the ring is placed inside the vagina.
- Leave the ring in place for 3 weeks (21 days).
- After 21 days remove the ring for 7 days. To remove the ring, hook your index finger over the edge of the ring and gently pull it out. Discard the ring in the foil packet provided and throw into garbage- Do not flush down the toilet! During this 7 day interval you will have a period.
- Insert a new ring at the end of the 7 days to begin a new cycle, even if you still have your period. Note that you will always be inserting a new ring on the same day of the week that you inserted the previous ring.
When to use back-up birth control
If the Nuva ring is accidently expelled and is left outside out of your vagina for more than 3 hours, re-insert it and use a back up method of birth control for the next 7 days. (Be sure to clean the ring with lukewarm water (not hot!) before re-inserting).
If you have had unprotected intercourse in the prior 5 days, use emergency contraception.
If the Nuva Ring is inserted late (after day 28), you will need emergency contraception if you have had intercourse in the prior 5 days and you should use back-up method for the next 7 days.
Switching from another method to the Nuva ring
- Birth control pill. Insert the Nuva Ring on the same day that you would have started your next package of pills. If switching from progestin-only pills, insert the ring on the same day that you take the last pill in your package and use a back-up method like condoms for 7 days.
- Depo Provera. Insert the ring on the day that your next injection is due.
- Postpartum. If not breastfeeding, you can start using the Nuva Ring 4 weeks after delivery.
Common questions about the Nuva ring
Can you use the ring if you have a vaginal infection?
Yes, there is no indication that the Nuva Ring will either cause or worsen a vaginal infection such as a yeast infection.
Can two Nuva Rings be used back to back to skip a period?
Yes, a new ring can be inserted on Day 22 and used for 3 weeks to delay a period. Then a 7 day break should be taken for a withdrawal bleed (period) to occur.
Can you use tampons with a ring inserted?
Yes, the two products can be used at the same time