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Contraceptive patch

Choosing the correct contraception for you.

Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in health

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This is a small, thin patch (like a plaster) that contains the hormones oestrogen and progestogen, which are absorbed through your skin. This contraceptive is 99% effective if used correctly. The contraceptive patch does NOT protect against sexual infections.

How it works

The patch can be worn on most parts of the body (upper arms, shoulder, bum). You replace the patch every seven days, with one patch-free week every month. It works by preventing ovulation (the release of an egg). It also stops sperm meeting up with the egg if an egg is released.

Advantages of the contraceptive patch:

  • You don't have to remember to use it every day. You only need to replace the patch once a week.
  • It's easy to use.
  • If you are vomiting or have diarrhoea, it doesn't affect the contraceptive, unlike the pill. You can wear it when swimming, exercising or showering.
  • It has the same advantages as the combined contraceptive pill.


  • It doesn't protect against sexual transmitted infections.
  • You might have side effects like headaches, migraines, dizziness, nausea, tender breasts, vaginal infections, bleeding between periods, mood swings or putting on or losing weight. If these side effects continue, talk to your doctor.
  • It might cause skin irritation in a small number of women.
  • Some medications like antibiotics might prevent the patch from working properly. Always consult with your GP.
  • The contraceptive patch is more expensive than taking a contraceptive pill.
  • It should not be used by women over 35 who smoke.
  • Should not be used by those who have a history of blood clots, have suffered a heart attack, have had gynaecological cancers, have very high blood pressure or uncontrolled diabetes.
  • There is some evidence that the patch is not as effective for women who weigh more than 90kg, which is just over 14 stone.

How to use the contraceptive patch:

  • The first patch should be applied on the first day of your period. You keep the patch on for seven days.
  • After seven days the patch is taken off and you apply a new one immediately. You continue to wear the second patch for seven days before changing again for a new one.
  • After three weeks of this cycle, you have a patch-free week. During this time you'll get a bleeding like your period.
  • After the patch-free week, a new cycle begins. It's important to remember to put on a new patch after the seven days.
  • If the patch falls off (it shouldn't as it's very sticky), then put on a new patch right away. If it has been off for less than 24 hours, you are still protected. If it's been off for more than 24 hours, then another type of contraceptive (like condoms) is needed for the next seven days.

Remember: The age of sexual consent in Ireland is 17. If you're over 16, you can consent to medical treatment including any treatment or tests needed.

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Published Feb­ru­ary 6th2013
Tags contraception sex sexual health
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