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 for 1 week. The fourth week is a patch-free week. That’s when you’ll have your period. In this patch free week, you are still protected against pregnancy. The patch is waterproof, so you can wear it 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, three weeks in a row. The fourth week is the patch-free week. Then you don't have to use a patch.

Where can you get the patches?

Contraceptive patches are available on prescription from 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 such as headaches and tender breasts.
  • You could forget to start wearing a new patch.
  • Sometimes the patch is visible.
  • The patch does not protect against STIs.

Important to know: if you have a BMI of more than 30, the patch won’t work properly!

Don’t use cream or lotion on the skin where you stick the patch or anywhere near it.

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 must use condoms too.