Contraceptive patch

photo of a Contraceptive patch

The patch is a thin, flexible, skin-coloured plaster, measuring 4.5 x 4.5 cm. A contraceptive patch is just as reliable as the pill.

How does it work?

Each patch releases hormones daily for 1 week, the same amount of hormones as in a ‘light’ contraceptive pill. You change the patch to a new one 3 weeks running. The 4th week is a patch-free week. That’s when you’ll have your period, and you’re still protected against pregnancy. You can wear the patch while you’re swimming or having a shower.

How to use it

  • Stick a patch somewhere on your skin. This can be anywhere, except on your breasts or thighs.
  • Do this once a week, 3 weeks running. The 4th week is the patch-free week. Then you don't have to use a patch.

Where can you get the patches?

Ask your doctor or a Sense doctor for a prescription for the contraceptive patch. You can get the patches at a pharmacy. 

Advantages and disadvantages


  • You only have to think about it once a week.
  • You know when you'll have your period.
  • You can delay your period by skipping your patch-free week.
  • The patch is even reliable when you’re vomiting or have diarrhoea.


  • When you start using patches, there may be side effects.
  • You could forget to start wearing a new patch.
  • Sometimes the patch is visible.

Important to know! 

  • If you have a BMI (see BMI calculator) of more than 30, the patch won’t work properly.
  • Don’t use cream or lotion on the skin where you stick the patch.

Are there any side effects?

When you start using the contraceptive patch, you might have some side effects. That’s because your body has to get used to the hormones the patch contains. Possible side effects are:

  • headaches
  • irregular blood loss
  • painful breasts
  • nausea
  • low moods
  • weight gain
  • reduced sex drive

Usually, the side effects disappear after a couple of months. If you’re having trouble with side effects, get in touch with your doctor or a Sense clinic.

When do you run the risk of pregnancy?

  • If you’ve started wearing your new patch too late (so your patch-free week was longer than 7 days).
  • If you’ve left your old patch on for longer than a week.


Remember: the contraceptive implant doesn’t protect against STIs. To prevent STIs you should use condoms.