The Ring (NuvaRing): Basic Info
The ring (brand names: Annovera and NuvaRing) is a small, bendable ring that you insert into your vagina. (It kind of looks like one of those jelly bracelets from the 80s, but it feels a tiny bit stiffer.) You leave it in place for three weeks at a time, then take it out for the fourth week. The ring works by giving off hormones that prevent your ovaries from releasing eggs. The hormones also thicken your cervical mucus, which helps to block sperm from getting to the egg in the first place.
The Right Time health centers stock all methods of contraception and offer free or low-cost contraception to those who need it.
Annovera is a white, squishy birth control ring that you can use for up to a year. You insert it into your vagina where you keep it for three weeks. At the end of the third week, you take it out for a week, wash it with mild soap and water, pat dry, and store in its case at room temperature. That’s usually when you get your period. At the end of the fourth week, you pop it back in and start the whole cycle again. After 13 cycles, it’s time for a new Annovera.
The NuvaRing is a clear, bendable ring that you insert into your vagina. (It kind of looks like one of those jelly bracelets from the 80s, but it feels a tiny bit stiffer.) You leave the NuvaRing in place for three weeks at a time, then take it out for the fourth week. That’s when you’ll usually get your period. At the end of the fourth week, you insert a new ring. There is also a generic version of NuvaRing that contains the same hormones.
It’s very effective
Annovera is 97.3% effective at preventing pregnancy when used perfectly (exactly as directed). That means about three out of every hundred people using Annovera perfectly for a year will get pregnant.
NuvaRing is 99.7% effective at preventing pregnancy when used perfectly. That means fewer than one out of every hundred people using NuvaRing perfectly for a year will get pregnant.
Relatively little effort each month
If you’re the kind of person who would have trouble remembering to take a pill every day, the ring might be a good option. You only need to remember to do something twice a month.
You’re comfortable with your body
If you’re not okay with putting your fingers inside yourself, the ring probably isn’t for you. It’s a lot like putting in a tampon, though: If you can do that, you’re good to go.
If you want, you can use either type of ring to skip your period. If you’re using Annovera, instead of taking it out after three weeks, you can just leave it in. You can skip a single period this way or multiple periods throughout the year. You can even skip all of your periods for a year by leaving it in continuously. It’s good for up to 13 cycles (a cycle is 28 days), which is a calendar year.
If you’re using the NuvaRing and want to skip periods, just leave it in for four weeks instead of three, and at the end of the 4 weeks (28 days), put in a new one.
Storage and privacy
If you’re storing NuvaRing (without opening it) for more than 4 months, it needs to be stored in the refrigerator. So if you don’t want anyone to know you’re using it, this could be a problem. Annovera doesn’t need to go in the fridge, but you still need a safe place to keep it stored in its case between cycles.
A lower dose of hormones
The ring uses a lower dose of hormones than other methods, so there may be fewer side effects.
Blood clots: should I be worried?
For most people, the risk of blood clots while using the ring is very low. However, there are some things that greatly increase your risk, like smoking cigarettes if you’re over 35 years old, as well as genetic and medical conditions, like uncontrolled high blood pressure, heart attack or stroke, and migraine headaches with aura. If you have any of these risk factors, it’s not recommended that you use either type of ring, the patch, or any of the combined hormonal birth control pills (the most commonly used kind of birth control pill), so check with your medical provider about other options.
When you’re ready to get pregnant
You’ll return to fertility (that’s just another way of saying you’ll go back to being able to get pregnant) pretty darn quickly after you go off the ring. So don’t take any chances. If you’re not ready for a baby, protect yourself with another method.
Don’t take our word for it. Check out the videos above to hear people talk about their experiences with the ring. And be sure to ask your health care provider which method is best for you.