The contraceptive patch works in a similar way to the contraceptive pill. But instead of being swallowed, it’s worn on the skin as a patch. The patch releases hormones into the body which stop you from getting pregnant. Each patch lasts for a week and must be changed on a weekly basis before having a week off without a patch. Like the combined pill, contraceptive patches contain both oestrogen and progestogen, and they prevent pregnancy by:
- stopping the ovaries from releasing an egg every month (ovulation)
- thickening cervical mucus, making it hard for sperm to move through the cervix
- thinning the womb lining, making it harder for an egg to attach itself
Some people prefer to use contraceptive patches instead of the contraceptive pill as you do not have to remember to take it every day, and it is an effective form of contraception even if you are sick (vomiting) or have diarrhoea - which can reduce the contraceptive pill’s effectiveness.
How long does it take for the patches to work?
If you start using contraceptive patches in the first 5 days of your period, you will be protected from pregnancy straight away. If you start using them at any other point, you will need to use another form of contraception, like condoms, for the first 7 days of applying the patches.
How effective are contraceptive patches?
If used correctly, the contraceptive patch is more than 99% effective at stopping pregnancy.
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