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Contraceptive ring

What is it?

The ring is a flexible transparent plastic ring that contains oestrogen and progestogen. It sits in the vagina and is self-inserted once-monthly. The ring is inserted and left in place for three consecutive weeks. After a one week, ring-free interval, during which a withdrawal bleed occurs, a new ring is inserted. Exact positioning is not critical for it to work.

This method does not protect you against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), so you may need to use a condom as well to help protect you against most STIs.

The contraceptive ring How does it work?

The hormones in the ring are absorbed through the walls of the vagina and then enter the blood stream. The ring works by:

  • Stopping the ovaries releasing an egg
  • Thickening the mucus of the cervix to act as a barrier to sperm
  • Stopping the egg settling by keeping the lining of the womb thin

The contraceptive ring How effective is it?

The ring is 99% effective when used correctly, just like ‘the Pill'.

What are the benefits?

  • You do not have to remember to take a pill every day
  • Hormones do not have to go through the stomach so protection is not affected by sickness or diarrhoea
  • Is self administered
  • May help to make your periods more regular

The contraceptive ringWomen may not be able to/may not want to use it if they:

  • Are overweight (BMI of 30 kg/m2 or over)
  • Are aged 35 years or over and are a current smoker or stopped smoking less than a year ago
  • Do not feel comfortable with inserting or removing the ring themselves
  • May not want to think about ordering a new prescription every 3 months

Women should not use it if they:

  • Have had a heart attack or stroke or a condition that may be the first sign of a heart attack (angina) or stroke (transient ischaemic attack)
  • Have inflammation of the pancreas with high levels of blood fat
  • Have an allergy to any of the ingredients
  • Have or have had blood clots in a vein or artery or risk factors for developing clots
  • Suffer from migraines with aura
  • Have diabetes complications or have had diabetes
  • Have breast cancer or have had it within the last five years
  • Have active liver disease
  • Have current cervical, ovarian, vaginal or uterine cancer
  • Might be pregnant
  • Have unexplained vaginal bleeding

The contraceptive ring Possible side-effects?

As with all medicines side effects can occur but not all women will experience side-effects. Side effects may include:

  • Breakthrough bleeding
  • Potential increase in the chance of breast tenderness, headaches, nausea and mood changes
  • Vaginal infection
  • A small increase in risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer / other hormone dependent tumours / cervical cancer
  • Small increased risk of blood clots

The contraceptive ring What if......?

I forget to put it back in / it falls out?

  • If the ring is out for less than three hours it will still protect you from pregnancy. You can rinse the ring with cold to lukewarm water (do not use hot water) and put it back in
  • If the ring has been out of the vagina for more than 3 hours during the first, second or third week of your cycle you may not be protected from pregnancy. Refer to your product information leaflet or contact your healthcare professional to understand what action you need to take

Remember: Contact your doctor or nurse if you have any concerns or are worried / unsure about anything to do with your contraception.

Have you decided which might be the right contraception for you? If not check out the other choices, if you have, jump to Step3: How do I change?

© 2015 Merck Sharp & Dohme Ltd. All rights reserved.

Job code: WOMN-1160817-0000

Date of preparation: September 2015

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