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Contraception health centre

The contraceptive patch

What is the contraceptive patch?

The contraceptive patch is a tiny skin patch with the same hormones as many birth control pills - oestrogen and progestogen. Women can wear this patch on the buttocks, abdomen, upper torso (except for the breasts), or the outer part of the upper arm. You should not place the patch on skin that is red, irritated, or cut, or skin where you apply make-up, creams or powders.

How does the contraceptive patch work?

A new patch is worn for one week and then replaced on the same day of the week for three consecutive weeks. The fourth week is a ‘patch-free week’. This is when you should have your period.

Women should only wear one patch at a time.

The contraceptive patch prevents pregnancy by delivering a continuous amount of two hormones, oestrogen and progestogen, through the skin and into the blood stream.

How effective is the contraceptive patch?

The contraceptive patch is more than 99% effective when used correctly.

Are there side effects associated with the contraceptive patch?

There are a few possible side effects of the birth control patch that include:

  • Breast tenderness
  • Headache
  • Rash or redness at the site of the patch
  • Nausea
  • Menstrual cramps

Who may be advised not to use the contraceptive patch?

The contraceptive patch may not be suitable for you if:

  •    You have a history of blood clots, heart attack, or stroke
  •    You are over 35 and smoke cigarettes
  •    You have a history of certain cancers, such as breast cancer
  •    You think you might be pregnant

Does the contraceptive patch protect against sexually transmitted infections?

No. The contraceptive patch does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV (the virus that causes AIDS). The male condom provides the best protection against STIs.

WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on October 10, 2014

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