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How Does a Birth Control Ring Work?

The birth control ring delivers hormones into the bloodstream through the vagina. The vaginal walls absorb the hormones, and the hormones signal the ovaries to not release an egg. The extra hormones also thicken the cervical mucus to prevent sperm from reaching an egg. The hormones in the birth control ring, also called the Nuvaring, work the same way as the hormones in most birth control pills.

To wear the birth control ring, squeeze the pliable, soft silicone together with your thumb and index finger and insert it gently into your vagina. There is no exact placement, but you shouldn’t be able to feel the ring in place, and it shouldn’t fall out—similar to how a tampon works and feels. However, when you use a tampon, have sex, or have a bowel movement, there’s a chance the ring might fall out. If this happens, rinse the ring off and reinsert it within three hours. If more than three hours have passed, use backup birth control.

The birth control ring holds both estrogen and progestin (the synthetic form of progesterone), just like the combination birth control pill. If, for any reason, you’re unable to take a combination birth control pill, you shouldn’t try a birth control ring without a trained healthcare provider’s guidance.

Choosing a birth control ring should be a decision you make after learning how strictly you must follow the placement instructions. Although when used correctly the ring is 99% effective, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, nine out of 100 women who use a vaginal ring become pregnant. The number of pregnancies per 100 drops significantly when the ring has been inserted for 21 days and removed for exactly seven days before inserting a new ring.

To maximize its efficacy, insert the new ring on time, every 29th day. If you’re unsure about its placement or the correct day to insert the ring, use an alternative form of birth control and talk to with your Nurx medical provider.

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