Contraceptive patch

Contraceptive patch

The contraceptive patch is a sticky patch, a bit like a plaster, that slowly releases hormones into your body to prevent pregnancy. The patch contains oestrogen and progestogen, the same hormones as the combined pill and works by preventing the release of an egg each month (ovulation). It also thickens cervical mucus which makes it harder for sperm to pass through.

You wear the contraceptive patch for 21 days, replacing it every 7 days, before taking a 7 day break and then starting the cycle again.

How effective is the contraceptive patch?

How effective is the contraceptive patch?

The contraceptive patch is 99% effective when used properly. The effectiveness can be reduced if you are taking medication or if you weigh more than 14 stone (90kg).

Who can use the contraceptive patch?

Who can use the contraceptive patch?

If you are healthy, don’t smoke and don’t have any medical conditions then you should be able to use the contraceptive patch. However there are some situations where it isn’t suitable such as if you;

  • are overweight
  • are breastfeeding
  • smoke
  • have heart problems
  • have had a blood clot
  • have lupus
  • have diabetes
  • get migraines
  • are taking certain medication

We can help you select the best form of contraception for you based on your sexual history and lifestyle. Book an appointment at a Devon Sexual Health clinic and come and have a chat with us.

Are there any side effects to the contraceptive patch?

Are there any side effects to the contraceptive patch?

Some women can get headaches, sickness, sore breasts, bleeding between periods and experience moodiness when they first start using the contraceptive patch. This will usually calm down after a couple of months.

A very rare complication would be a blood clot in a vein or an artery, particularly if you already have some health problems. There is also some research to indicate a very slightly increased risk of getting breast or cervical cancer if you use the contraceptive patch.

If you are concerned about any of these side effects or would like to find out if the contraceptive patch is a good option for you then contact a Devon Sexual Health clinic near you.

Where can I get the contraceptive patch?

Where can I get the contraceptive patch?

You can get the contraceptive patch free of charge from a Devon Sexual Health clinic near you.

How to use the contraceptive patch

How to use the contraceptive patch

Apply the patch to an area of bare, unbroken skin in a place where it won’t get easily rubbed off or dislodged. Do not apply the patch to your breasts.

Wear the patch for 7 days and on the 8th day, replace it with a new patch in a different place on your body.

Continue this for 21 days and then take a 7 day break.

If the patch falls off then apply a new one. If you’ve just started using it, or it’s been off for longer than 48 hours, you should use an additional form of contraception, such as condoms, for 7 days.

Pros & Cons

Pros & Cons

  • It’s easy to use
  • When the patch is in place you don’t have to think about contraception for 7 days.
  • It still works even if you are sick or get diarrhoea
  • It can make periods lighter and less painful
  • It doesn’t protect you against STI’s
  • It can cause itching or a sore patch where the patch goes
  • There are some side effects such as nausea, sore breasts and moodiness
  • You can see it
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Accessing our service during the COVID pandemic

How to access our service:

We have now implemented a telephone triage system for all of our clinics. This system will be in place for the duration of the pandemic. Please contact our services to access this triage system. Our central telephone number is 0300 303 3989.

If you are experiencing symptoms of Coronavirus please do not attend the clinic. Clear advice for people with symptoms of coronavirus is available at .

Advice from our service:

We have updated information on the provision of routine contraception during this pandemic here.

If you need the combined contraceptive pill please try (if you can) to get updated measurements of your height, weight and blood pressure before calling us.

We are currently prioritising these groups for coil and implant (LARC) fits:

  • Those with vulnerabilities including but not limited to those who are: <18, attending abortion and maternity services, homeless, sex workers, victims of sexual assault, people with language barriers, drug and alcohol problems, learning disability, serious mental illness
  • Those aged <30 years

More details on LARC fittings at our service are found here

There is also specific advice on coronavirus available for People Living with HIV here, and for pregnant women here

Self-requested Sexual Health screening by post is available for for under 25s only - more info here

For others with testing requirements please contact the service on 0300 303 3989.

Information is now also available to advise on sexual contact during a time of social distancing here.

Alternative provision:

Please be aware that we may have to cancel, rearrange or shut clinical services in response to changing clinical and staffing pressures created by the Coronavirus pandemic. 

If you are struggling to access sexual health services, alternatives may be available:

  • Emergency Contraception - at your local pharmacy - more info
  • Contraceptive pills and LARC procedures - obtained from your GP
  • HIV postal testing - available to at-risk groups for a small fee -  more info
  • HIV PEPSE - available via A+E departments - more info
  • Condoms by post (for gay and bisexual men only) - more info