Skip to Content
Skip to Navigation


What is the NuvaRing?

NuvaRing is a flexible, colorless, odorless ring that contains the same hormones used in birth control pills. The hormones are absorbed through the vagina into the blood stream to prevent pregnancy. The ring is inserted into the vagina and left in place for 21 days. It is then removed for seven days to allow for a period.

The ring is as effective in preventing pregnancy as birth control pills.  The failure rate, if used correctly, is less than 1%, or one pregnancy in 100 women.

ring.jpgWhat are the benefits of the ring?

  • Lower rates of ovarian and uterine cancer
  • Shorter, lighter, more pain-free periods
  • No need to remember to take a pill every day
  • Highly effective birth control
  • Lower incidence of benign ovarian cysts
  • Lower incidence of certain types of  anemia

What are the risks of the ring?

  • Blood clots
  • Strokes
  • Benign liver tumors (extremely rare)

Who can use the ring?

The ring is generally safe for use by young healthy women. If you have any of the following conditions, be sure you discuss ring use with your provider, because special attention may be required:

  • Personal or family history of strokes
  • Personal or family history of blood clots
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Migraine headaches

What are the side effects?

The following symptoms can occur when you begin using the ring. However, these symptoms are usually mild and go away sometime during the first few months. If they do not stop or if they are too bothersome, you may decide to consider a change to another birth control method.

  • Vaginal irritation or discharge
  • Nausea
  • Breast tenderness
  • Mood changes
  • Skin changes (acne - may improve or worsen; darkening of the skin over the cheeks - rare but may be permanent)
  • Weight changes
  • Bleeding between periods or so called "breakthrough bleeding"
  • Mild headaches

How do I use the ring?

Counting the first day of your period as "day one," insert the ring any day up to the fifth day after your period. Use condoms or abstain for the first seven days of ring use.

If you have been using a birth control pill containing both estrogen and progesterone, insert the ring any time in the seven days after taking the last active pill. You do not have to use a back-up method of birth control.

Once the ring is inserted, leave it in place for three weeks. If you feel discomfort, the ring is probably not inserted far enough into the vagina. There is no danger of the ring being pushed too far into the vagina or getting lost.

Remove the ring on the same day of the week it was inserted at about the same time. Your period will usually start within 2 or 3 days after the ring is removed. Your period may be much lighter than it is when you are not taking hormones. This is normal. After seven days, reinsert a new ring on the same day of the week and at the same time of day as you inserted the first ring whether or not you are still having your period.

If the ring comes out for less than 3 hours, you should still be protected from pregnancy. The ring can be rinsed with cool or lukewarm (not hot) water and replaced in the vagina. If it has been out longer than 3 hours, you MUST use condoms or abstain until the ring has been in place for 7 consecutive days.  You may want to discuss emergency contraception with your clinician or a Hall Health Consulting Nurse.

If you leave the ring in too long (up to 4 weeks or less), remove it and insert a new ring on the day you would normally insert a new ring.

If you have left the ring in for more than 4 weeks, you should make sure you are not pregnant. Then insert a new ring and use an extra method of birth control or abstain until the new ring has been in place for 7 days.

The hormones in the NuvaRing can interact with other drugs or herbal remedies. Be sure to let your health care providers know you are using the ring. If surgery is anticipated it may be advisable to discontinue the ring a month before the operation. Be sure to discuss this with the surgeon.

What are danger signs of hormonal medications?

Call the clinic immediately or consult with the emergency room if you experience any of the following:

  • Severe headache
  • Visual changes (flashing lights in the eyes, blurring and /or partial loss of vision)
  • Numbness or tingling in face, an arm, leg, hand or foot.
  • Pain in the chest, shortness of breath, or coughing up blood (these may be symptoms of a clot in the lungs)
  • Severe leg pain (possible clot in the leg)
  • Crushing chest pain or heaviness
  • Severe abdominal pain

These symptoms may be warning signs of a blood clot, heart attack or stroke.

The ring does not protect against HIV infection and other sexually transmitted diseases.

Additional resources

See Hall Health's other health information resources provides information about many different birth control methods

Planned Parenthood's website offers information on the effectiveness of different kinds of birth control methods

If you have any questions and are a UW student or established Hall Health patient, you may call one of our Consulting Nurses for further information.


Authored by: Hall Health Center Women's Health Clinic staff

Authored by: Hall Health Center Women's Health Clinic staff, January 2014