Contraceptive patch

The contraceptive patch is a sticky, hormone-releasing patch that you stick onto your skin. It has to be changed once a week and is very effective at preventing pregnancy when used correctly.

  • frequency: regularly

  • effectiveness: 91%

  • STI protection? no

  • periods: gives you control

What you need to know about the patch

The contraceptive patch is a very effective method of contraception. It works by releasing the synthetic hormones oestrogen and progestogen into your bloodstream through your skin. It’s easy to apply and you only need to change it once a week. It also allows you to control when you bleed.

How does the patch work?

It works by releasing synthetic copies of reproductive hormones oestrogen and progesterone at a steady rate to prevent the release of an egg (ovulation) each month.

How to use the patch

You can start using it at any time in your cycle. The patch needs replacing every 7 days. You can use it continuously (replacing it every 7 days) and you will usually not bleed at all.

Or you can leave a gap of 4–7 days without the patch every month or every 3 months if you want to have a regular bleed.

Side effects of the patch

Positive side effects include lighter periods, less period pain and ovulation pain, and helping with acne. Negative side effects include breast tenderness, nausea and possible mood changes.

Health benefits and risks of the patch

It has similar health benefits and risks to the combined pill. It may increase your risk of thrombosis and breast cancer but decrease your risk of cancer of the lining of the womb and ovary.

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