How effective is it?
Over 99 per cent effective if used according to instructions. Less than one woman in 100 will get pregnant in a year.
How does it work?
A small, flexible, plastic ring put into the vagina and releases oestrogen and progestogen. It stops ovulation, thickens cervical mucus to prevent sperm reaching an egg, and thins the lining of the uterus to prevent a fertilised egg implanting.
What are the advantages?
- You do not have to think about it every day.
- It is not affected if you vomit or have diarrhoea.
- It can make periods regular, lighter and less painful.
- It is easy to insert and remove.
- When you stop using it your fertility will return to normal.
What are the disadvantages?
- Not suitable for very overweight women or smokers over 35 years.
- Low risk of serious side-effects such as blood clots, breast and cervical cancer.
- Can be temporary side effects including increased vaginal discharge, headaches, nausea, breast tenderness and mood changes.
Anything else I should know?
- Women must be comfortable with inserting and removing it.
- Ring is used for three weeks out of four.
- Some medicines can make it less effective.
- Breakthrough bleeding and spotting may occur in the first few months.