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GB-NON-02457 | Date of Preparation: April 2020



The contraceptive patch is a small, sticky patch that releases hormones into your body through your skin to prevent pregnancy.1


Patch key facts

The patch works in the same way as the combined contraceptive pill, and contains the same hormones (oestrogen and progestogen). Like the pill, it prevents the release of an egg each month.1

Each patch lasts for one week. Three patches are used in a row, followed by a one-week gap without a patch.1


Can help with heavy or painful periods1


It only needs to be applied once weekly – so you don’t have to think about it every day1


As it is stuck onto the skin, it may be seen by others1

  • Typically 91%* effective, but more than 99% effective when used correctly1,2
  • Applied once a week for 3 weeks each month1
  • Not affected by vomiting and diarrhoea1
  • May be seen on the skin1
  • Not all women can use the patch1

The pros and cons listed are not exhaustive. Talk to your doctor or nurse for more information.

*These are "typical" effectiveness rates, which is how effective the method is with an average person. Typical rates tend to reflect real life usage (including inconsistent and incorrect use). "Perfect" effectiveness rates are how effective the method is when used perfectly. Refer to the patient information leaflet for "perfect" use.

Common questions

Who is the patch not suitable for?

If you’re over 35 and you smoke, this one’s not for you. Also, if you’re very overweight or have a medical condition or take certain medicines, it might not be a good option – so make sure you chat to your doctor or nurse first.1

Are there health risks?

Like with any medicine, there are some risks with the patch, like blood clots (though these are rare).1 The patch also increases your risk of some cancers while decreasing your risk of others.1 If you want to know more about this, have a chat with your doctor or nurse.

Could it come off in water?

The patch is very sticky and should stay on even during a shower, bath, hot tub, sauna or swim.1

Similar contraceptive types

This contraceptive is a type known as short-acting – for more contraceptives like this, click below

Combined pill

Tell me more

Progestogen-only pill

Tell me more

Vaginal ring

Tell me more

So what do I do now?

Now you have a few options for types of contraception that might be right for you, you should have a chat with a GP/doctor or nurse.


Sexual health clinic

Find and visit a contraception clinic near you for information about your available choices.

Find out more


Pop into your local pharmacy and ask about your options.

Find a pharmacy

GP clinic

Make an appointment with your nurse or doctor so you can chat about what options are best for you.

Find a GP

You may want to download information on your options to help with your discussion.

Download now

PDF - 0.5MB

Reporting of Side Effects: If you get any side effects, talk to your doctor, pharmacist or nurse. This includes any possible side effects not listed in the package leaflet. You can also report side effects directly via the Yellow Card Scheme at By reporting side effects you can help provide more information on the safety of this medicine.


  1. NHS contraception guide: Contraceptive patch.
    Available at: (Last accessed June 2019).
  2. NHS Contraception Guide: How effective is contraception at preventing pregnancy?
    Available at: (Last accessed July 2019).
  1. Merriam-Webster medical dictionary. Available at: (Last accessed September 2019).

Contraceptive Match is an awareness campaign which has been fully funded and developed by MSD.

Images on this site are for illustrative purposes only.