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Contraceptive patch

About the patch

The contraceptive patch contains oestrogen and progestogen like those used in the combined pill. It is more than 99% effective in preventing pregnancy. It is a small, thin, pink-beige coloured patch. You can stick it on most areas of your body and the patch can be worn in the bath or swimming pool.

Each patch lasts for 7 days. You apply a new patch once a week for 3 weeks. Following this you stop using the patch for 7 days and during this week you have a period-type bleed.

The patch can help with heavy or painful periods and may help acne. Minor side effects include mood swings, breast tenderness and headaches.

The pill does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), so using a condom as well will help to protect you against STIs.

Using a contraceptive patch could be helpful if you can’t remember to take a pill every day. The patch isn’t affected by vomiting or diarrhoea.

If the patch falls off or if you forget to change the patch, it’s possible you may still be protected against pregnancy, but it depends how long the patch has been off. Check the leaflet in your box of patches or 'Your guide to the contraceptive patch' for extra advice on what to do. If the patch has been off for more than 48 hours and you've had unprotected sex you may need emergency contraception.

The patch isn’t suitable for everyone. Your nurse or doctor will ask you questions to check if it’s a good option for you.

Where you can get the contraceptive patch from

You can get contraceptive patches from any our clinics or your GP.

If you think the patch is the right contraception choice, you can:

If you need to bring your child/children with you to your appointment we recommend you bring another adult with you to care for them.

*Our walk-in and wait clinics offer limited slots and operate on a first come first served basis. When clinics are at full capacity, patients asking to be seen will be triaged and those who fit our urgent criteria will be a priority. At busy times we may need to signpost non-urgent cases to other clinics or recommend patients make an appointment for an alternative day or suggest a return visit.

More information

Visit NHS Choices - contraceptive patch

Download Family Planning Association’s Your guide to the contraceptive patch.