How does the NuvaRing work?

I have heard that the NuvaRing releases hormones locally, not systemically like the pill, but I don’t really understand what that means. Can you explain?

–Terri K.


It is correct that the NuvaRing, which you place in your vagina for 3 weeks, releases hormones directly into the vagina. That’s what “locally” means. However, those hormones are absorbed through the vagina into the blood stream, so they DO actually provide a continuous low dose of estrogen and progesterone throughout the body. That’s what “systemically” means. The NuvaRing is a combined hormonal contraception, like the birth control pill, and does function in the body in the same way that the pill does. Unlike the pill, it does not need to be taken every day, but remains in place and effective for 3 weeks at a time. For additional information about how the NuvaRing works, please see this article from the Merck website.


Answered by By Elaine Germano, CNM, Senior Education Policy Advisor


Disclaimer: Ask a Midwife does not provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, or treatment. The information provided by Ask a Midwife is for educational purposes only, and is not a substitute for medical or professional care. You should not use the information in place of a visit, call consultation, or the advice of your midwife or other health care provider. If you believe you have a medical emergency, you should immediately call 911 or your health care provider.

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