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Patches

The contraceptive patch is a sticky patch that delivers hormones into your body through the skin. It works in the same way as the combined pill. When used correctly, it is more than 99% effective at preventing pregnancy.

What is it?

The contraceptive patch is a sticky patch that delivers hormones into your body through the skin. It works in the same way as the combined pill and contains the same hormones- oestrogen and progestogen. It prevents the release of an egg, thickens the cervical mucus (making it harder for sperm to travel through the entrance of the womb) and thins the womb lining (making it less likely that a fertilised egg will implant there). When used correctly, it is more than 99% effective at preventing pregnancy.


Who can use it?

As the contraceptive patch is not suitable for everyone, it is important to see your doctor or nurse for advice. You may not be able to use the patch if:

  • You are pregnant or think you may be pregnant.
  • You are breastfeeding.
  • You smoke and are 35 and over.
  • You are 35 and over and stopped smoking less than a year ago.
  • You are overweight.
  • You take certain medicines (for example, St John’s Wort and medicines used to treat epilepsy, TB or HIV).
  • You have or have had thrombosis in a vein or artery, a heart problem or disease affecting your blood circulatory system (including high blood pressure), migraine with aura, breast cancer, disease of the liver or gall bladder or diabetes with complications (or diabetes for more than 20 years).
What are the advantages?
  • It is easy to use and does not interrupt sex.
  • They are very effective at preventing pregnancy.
  • You only have to remember to change it once a week.
  • The hormones do not have to be absorbed by the stomach, so it is just as effective even if you vomit or have diarrhoea.
  • It tends to make you periods regular, lighter and less painful.
  • It can help with premenstrual symptoms.
  • It may reduce the risk of ovarian, womb and bowel cancer.
  • It may reduce the risk of fibroids, ovarian cysts and non-cancerous breast disease.
What are the disadvantages?
  • It may be visible.
  • It may cause skin irritation, itching and soreness.
  • It does not protect against STIs.
  • Possible mild temporary side effects when they start using the patch such as headaches, nausea, breast tenderness and mood changes.
  • Bleeding between periods and spotting is common in the first few cycles of using the patch.
  • The patch slightly increases your chance of developing a blood clot.
Where can you get it?

You can get the patch for free through the NHS on prescription from your GP or from our clinics.

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