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Contraceptive patch

What is it?

The patch contains the hormones oestrogen and progestogen. Each patch lasts for seven days. One patch is used a week, for 3 weeks, followed by a patch free week. The thin sticky patch releases a daily dose of hormones which is absorbed through your skin and into your blood stream. The patch can be applied to clean, healthy skin on your buttocks, abdomen, upper outer arm, or upper back in a place where it will not be rubbed by tight clothing.

This method does not protect you against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), so you may need to use a condom as well to help protect you against most STIs.

The contraceptive patch How does it work?

The hormones in the contraceptive patch work in a similar way to those in the combined contraception pill by:

  • Stopping the ovaries releasing an egg
  • Thickening the mucus of the cervix to act as a barrier to sperm
  • Stopping a fertilised egg settling by keeping the lining of the womb thin

The contraceptive patch How effective is it?

The patch is over 99% effective when used correctly.

What are the benefits?

  • You do not have to remember to take a pill every day – you only need to change the patch once a week
  • Doesn't interrupt sex
  • Hormones do not have to go through the stomach so protection is not affected by sickness or diarrhoea
  • May help to make your periods more regular

The contraceptive patchWomen may not be able to/may not want to use it if they:

  • Are overweight (BMI of 30 kg/m2 or over)
  • Are aged 35 years and over and are a current smoker, or stopped smoking less than a year ago
  • Don't want their contraception to be visible

Women should not use it if they:

  • Are allergic to any ingredients of the patch
  • Have had blood clots in any vein or artery
  • Have ever had a heart attack or angina
  • Have ever had a stroke or slight temporary stroke
  • Have ever had a migraine or bad headaches with changes in vision or numbness in any part of the body (migraines with aura)
  • Have high blood pressure
  • Have diabetes with damaged blood vessels
  • Have an illness which runs in your family and affects your blood fat levels and the clotting of your blood
  • Have ever been told they might have breast cancer or cancer of any of their reproductive organs
  • Have ever had liver tumours or liver disease with abnormal liver function
  • Have unexplained vaginal bleeding
  • Are pregnant

The contraceptive patch Possible side-effects?

As with all medicines side effects can occur but not all women will experience side-effects. Side effects may include:

  • Headache
  • Feeling sick
  • Skin reaction or irritation
  • Breast tenderness
  • Weight increase
  • Mood changes
  • Vaginal infections
  • Increase in blood pressure
  • Abdominal pain
  • Acne
  • Small increases risk of blood clots
  • Breakthrough bleeding
  • Small increase in the risk of breast cancer/cervical cancer

The contraceptive patch What if......?

The patch falls off or partly detaches?

The action you should take depends on how long the patch has been out of contact with your skin for, and where in your cycle you are, as you may no longer be protected from pregnancy. The information leaflet in the packaging for your patches contains advice, but if you are unsure or have concerns, always contact your doctor or nurse.

I forget to take the patch off at the end of the third week?

  • Take the patch off as soon as you remember and put a new one on on your usual start day
  • No additional contraception needs to be used as you should be protected from pregnancy

Remember: Contact your doctor or nurse if you have any concerns or are worried / unsure about anything to do with your contraception.

Have you decided which might be the right contraception for you? If not check out the other choices, if you have, jump to Step3: How do I change?

© 2015 Merck Sharp & Dohme Ltd. All rights reserved.

Job code: WOMN-1160817-0000

Date of preparation: September 2015

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