The patch

The patch is:

  • Over 99% effective when you use the method correctly every time
  • Over 91% effective when you don’t always use the method correctly

What is it?

A patch is similar to a small plaster of 4cm by 5cm. Each patch lasts for 1 week; you put a new patch on every week for 3 weeks (21 days) in a row without a break, then you may be told to wait for a few days, up to 7 days before putting on a new patch.

This advice will depend on your doctor's instructions.

How does it work?

The patch releases the artificial form of the hormones - oestrogen and progesterone - into your body.

It works by:

  • stopping ovulation (an egg being released from your ovaries)
  • thickening the mucus at the neck of the womb (uterus) so it is difficult for sperm to enter the womb
  • thinning the lining of the womb and this prevents a fertilised egg from settling (implanting) in the womb

It is important that you talk to a doctor who will assess what contraceptive option is best for you.


  • It does not interrupt sex.
  • It may be easier to remember to use than taking a pill everyday.


  • Its effectiveness may be reduced by taking certain medications. 
  • Is not suitable for you if you are obese.
  • It does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
  • It may not be suitable if you are breastfeeding. Check with your doctor.
  • It is not advised if you smoke and are over 35.