What to Do If You Accidentally Leave Your NuvaRing In

Whether you're a few days or a few weeks late

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If you accidentally leave your NuvaRing in longer than you should, you may or may not still have pregnancy protection. This clear, bendable contraceptive ring is meant to stay in the vagina for three weeks each month. What happens—and what you need to do—if it is left in place beyond that depends on how long its removal is overdue.

This hormonal birth control method slowly releases a low dose of estrogen and etonogestrel (a type progestin) to protect you against pregnancy for the month. But levels of those hormones deplete, which is why timely removal and replacement is so important.

This article explains what to do if you forget to replace your NuvaRing according to the recommended schedule. It also explains how to properly use this form of birth control and when you may need to contact your healthcare provider regarding the NuvaRing.

forgot to remove nuvaring
Verywell / Theresa Chiechi

Recommended NuvaRing Removal Schedule

Each NuvaRing is prescribed on a 28-day cycle. To use the product correctly:

  • Insert the NuvaRing on day 1 of week 1.
  • Leave it in place for week 2 and week 3.
  • On day 1 of week 4, take out your NuvaRing, which will likely trigger your withdrawal period.
  • A week later, insert a new NuvaRing to begin the next 28-day cycle.

When used as prescribed, the NuvaRing delivers enough estrogen and etonogestrel into the bloodstream to provide ample protection during the one-week gap between rings.

Forgetting to Remove the NuvaRing During Week 4

If it is day 2 (or later) of week 4, and you just realized that you forgot to take out your NuvaRing, don't worry. Generally speaking, the NuvaRing is 91% to 99.7% effective. Your NuvaRing is still effective if you forget to take it out during week 4.

However, you will need to make some slight adjustments:

  • Keep your NuvaRing in place for the entire week 4 (completing the 28 days of the cycle).
  • Take the NuvaRing out on day 1 of your next 28-day cycle.
  • Wait seven days and insert a new NuvaRing. You can consider this the beginning of your next 28-day cycle (day 1 of week 1).
  • Use a backup birth control method (like spermicide or condoms) for the first seven days after inserting the NuvaRing.

NuvaRing Left in for More Than 28 Days

If you forget to remove the NuvaRing and it remains in place for longer than 28 days, the levels of estrogen and etonogestrel may have dropped to such a level that pregnancy is possible.

Under these circumstances:

  1. Remove your NuvaRing immediately.
  2. Take a home pregnancy test or schedule one at your healthcare provider's office.
  3. If you aren't pregnant, insert a new NuvaRing and consider it day 1 of week 1 (the beginning of your next 28-day cycle).
  4. You must then use a backup birth control method for the next seven days.

Current research is unclear on exactly how much of the protective benefit, if any, may be lost after 28 days.

One study suggested that the NuvaRing may provide ample protection for up to 35 days. On the downside, doing so appears to increase the risk of spotting or bleeding (a primary reason people stop using NuvaRing).

To this end, until further research shows that extended use of the NuvaRing does not cause complications, follow the manufacturer's instructions as approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

How to Remove a NuvaRing

The instructions for removing a NuvaRing are very straightforward and simple:

  1. Wash and dry your hands.
  2. Choose a comfortable position. Either lie down, squat or stand with one leg up on a stool or chair. 
  3. Put your index finger into your vagina and hook it through the NuvaRing. Slowly pull downward and forward to remove the NuvaRing and then just pull it all the way out.
  4. You can put the NuvaRing in the resealable pouch it came in and dispose of it in a trash can. Do not flush your NuvaRing down the toilet.
  5. Seven days after you have taken out your old NuvaRing, it is time to insert a new one. You can still do this even if your period has not yet stopped.

The NuvaRing remains an effective means of birth control that doesn't require daily dosing. To ensure that it provides optimal protection, always be sure to:

  • Store it at room temperature, avoiding direct sunlight
  • Store it for no longer than four months
  • Check the expiration date and throw it away if it's expired

Inserting a New NuvaRing

The NuvaRing is relatively simple to use but requires a little insight and preparation to ensure that is inserted correctly. If you're still new to the NuvaRing, these insertion reminders can help you feel more comfortable with the process:

  1. Choose a position that makes you feel comfortable.
  2. Wash and dry your hands before removing NuvaRing from its pouch.
  3. Open the resealable foil pouch using the notch on both sides near the top of the package.
  4. Take out your NuvaRing.
  5. Keep the foil pouch. You can place your used NuvaRing into it before you throw it into the garbage.
  6. Hold your NuvaRing between your thumb and index finger. Then compress the sides of the ring together so that it's a long, oval shape.
  7. Insert the folded NuvaRing into your vagina.
  8. Using your index finger, slowly and gently push it farther up into your vagina.

The NuvaRing doesn't need to be in an exact location to work. Your NuvaRing may slightly move around within your vagina. This is normal.

However, if it feels uncomfortable or hurts, you may not have inserted it far enough. Use your finger to carefully push your NuvaRing as far as you can. Don't worry about pushing too far; it won't get lost.

When to Call a Healthcare Provider

If you experience pain or bleeding after inserting a NuvaRing, or can't find it, call your healthcare provider. Seek emergency care if you have:

  • Sudden chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Jaundice
  • High fever
  • Persistent leg pain
  • Vomiting
  • Fainting
  • Severe rash
3 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Planned Parenthood. What should I do if I mess up using NuvaRing?

  2. NuvaRing. Frequently asked questions. Merck Sharp & Dohme B.V., a subsidiary of Merck & Co., Inc. 2018.

  3. Dragoman M, Petrie K, Torgal A, Thomas T, Cremers S, Westhoff CL. Contraceptive vaginal ring effectiveness is maintained during 6 weeks of use: a prospective study of normal BMI and obese women. Contraception. 2013;87(4):432-6. doi:10.1016/j.contraception.2012.12.001

Additional Reading
  • Kubba A, Lete I, Briggs P. NuvaRing: A vaginal contraceptive. Trends in Urology, Gynaecology & Sexual Health. 2010; 15(1):17-22.

By Dawn Stacey, PhD, LMHC
Dawn Stacey, PhD, LMHC, is a published author, college professor, and mental health consultant with over 15 years of counseling experience.