Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

Contraceptive vaginal ring

7-minute read

Key facts

  • The vaginal ring is a type of contraception (birth control).
  • It’s a soft plastic ring that you insert into your vagina.
  • The vaginal ring releases the same hormones as the contraceptive pill to prevent pregnancy.
  • The vaginal ring can also help you control your periods.
  • Talk with your doctor about whether the vaginal ring may be suitable for you.

What is the contraceptive vaginal ring?

The vaginal ring is a form of contraception (birth control). It’s a soft plastic ring that you put into your vagina. It releases the same hormones as the contraceptive pill to prevent pregnancy.

The vaginal ring can also help control your periods. It’s sometimes called a ‘birth control ring’.

NuvaRing is the only type of vaginal ring available in Australia. You need a prescription from your doctor to get the vaginal ring.

Image of a person holding a vaginal ring in their hand.
The contraceptive vaginal ring (birth control ring) is self-inserted and should be removed after 3 weeks.

How does the vaginal ring work?

The vaginal ring releases the hormones oestrogen and progestogen. These hormones are absorbed through the walls of the vagina. They are the same hormones used in the combined oral contraceptive pill.

The hormones stop pregnancy by:

  • stopping your ovaries from releasing eggs
  • thickening the mucus at the entrance to the uterus (womb)

How do I use the vaginal ring?

You can insert and remove the vaginal ring yourself.

The ring should be put in at the correct time during your menstrual cycle. Your doctor can help you work out when to start using the ring.

Once inserted properly, the ring sits high in your vagina. It’s left in place for 3 weeks to release the hormones. Most people can’t feel it. Don’t remove the ring during sex or exercise — it should be left in place.

After 3 weeks, you should take out the ring. You should have 7 days without a ring, and then put in a new vaginal ring. During the week with no ring you will have a bleed like a period.

If your ring accidentally comes out, rinse it with water and put it back in straight away.

How well does the vaginal ring work at preventing pregnancy?

The vaginal ring works well at preventing pregnancy when used properly. With typical use, 7 in 100 people will become pregnant when using a vaginal ring.

The ring won't work if you forget to put it in and take it out at the right times. If you put in or take out your ring too early or late:

  • read the instructions that come with your ring on what to do
  • talk to your doctor or family planning clinic

If you have not used your vaginal ring as directed, you may need to use another type of contraception (such as condoms) for 7 days. If you have had unprotected sex during this time, you might consider taking emergency contraception. This is available from your doctor, pharmacist, or family planning clinic.

Some medicines for epilepsy and some herbal preparations can stop the vaginal ring from working properly. Talk to your doctor before starting any new medicines or supplements while you’re using the vaginal ring.

Can the vaginal ring help control my periods?

The vaginal ring can help control your periods and other symptoms. It can:

If you don’t want to have a period, you can talk to your doctor about putting a new ring in straight after the old one.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of the vaginal ring?

Advantages of the vaginal ring:

  • It doesn't need to be fitted by a doctor — you can put it in yourself.
  • Unlike the pill, you don’t need to take it every day and it’s not affected by vomiting or diarrhoea.
  • The vaginal ring can help control your periods.
  • Breakthrough bleeding is less frequent with the vaginal ring compared with the pill.
  • It allows your fertility to return quickly when the ring is removed.

Disadvantages of the vaginal ring:

  • You need to remember to place and remove the vaginal ring at the right times.
  • It may be uncomfortable or accidentally come out.
  • It can cause similar side effects to the pill, such as headache, nausea, bloating, tender breasts, acne, mood changes, loss of interest in sex, breakthrough bleeding and brown patches on the face.
  • The vaginal ring can be more expensive than the pill.
  • There is a small risk of blood clots (or thrombosis), heart attack and stroke associated with using the vaginal ring.
  • The vaginal ring can't protect you against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Who should not use a vaginal ring?

The vaginal ring is not recommended if you:

  • are older than 35 years and smoke
  • have had a baby in the last 6 weeks
  • have ever had a deep vein thrombosis, heart attack or stroke
  • have certain types of heart disease
  • have a condition that increases your risk of blood clots
  • have severe liver problems
  • have other conditions, including some types of migraine, breast cancer or some types of lupus

Talk to your doctor or family planning clinic about whether the vaginal ring would be suitable for you.

Resources and support

Family Planning Australia has a full range of fact sheets on contraception.

You should talk to your health professional about the benefits and risks of getting a medical implant. Use the Therapeutic Goods Administration's guide on what to ask. The information is in English, Arabic, Croatian, Farsi, Greek, Italian, Korean, Mandarin, Spanish, Turkish and Vietnamese.

FIND A HEALTH SERVICE — The Service Finder can help you find doctors, pharmacies, hospitals and other health services.

ASK YOUR DOCTOR — Preparing for an appointment? Use the Question Builder for general tips on what to ask your GP or specialist.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: June 2023

Back To Top

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Contraception: vaginal ring -

The vaginal ring (brand name NuvaRing) is a type of hormonal contraception. When used properly, the vaginal ring is an effective and safe way of preventing pregnancy.

Read more on myDr website

Vaginal Ring | Nuva Ring | How effective is vaginal ring | Vaginal Ring insertion | Vaginal Ring cost - Sexual Health Victoria

The vaginal ring is sold as the NuvaRing® in Australia. It is a soft plastic ring that contains two hormones, oestrogen and progestogen.

Read more on Sexual Health Victoria website

Contraception - vaginal ring - Better Health Channel

The vaginal ring works in a similar way to the oral contraceptive pill to prevent pregnancy.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Vaginal Ring (NuvaRing) | Family Planning NSW

The vaginal ring is a soft plastic ring which contains two types of hormones - an oestrogen and a progestogen. These hormones are similar to the ones made in your ovaries and are like the hormones that are in the contraceptive pill. In Australia the only vaginal ring you can buy is called NuvaRing.

Read more on Family Planning Australia website

Short Acting Contraception | 1800 My Options

Short-Acting Contraception options include the Pill and vaginal ring. They must be taken regularly to prevent pregnancy.

Read more on 1800 My Options website

Contraception methods| Contraceptive options | Contraceptive choices | Key facts on contraceptive | Contraceptive Melbourne - Sexual Health Victoria

SHV offer advice , services and support on contraceptive methods at both their clinics in Melbourne CBD and Box Hill.

Read more on Sexual Health Victoria website


Contraception is the use of hormones, devices or surgery to prevent a woman from becoming pregnant. It allows couples to choose if and when they want to have a baby.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website


Read this article to learn more about the different contraception methods that are available to you.

Read more on Rahma Health website

Contraception after Pregnancy - Sexual Health Victoria

Sexual Health Victoria (formally Family Planning Victoria) focuses on reproductive and sexual health care, education and advocacy. Our vision is to improve ever

Read more on Sexual Health Victoria website

Contraception - intrauterine devices (IUD) - Better Health Channel

An intrauterine device (IUD) is a small contraceptive device that is put into the uterus (womb) to prevent pregnancy.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Queensland Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Victorian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo

Healthdirect Australia acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to the Traditional Owners and to Elders both past and present.