If you’re looking for a form of contraception that is easy to use and doesn’t require any implants or coils to be fitted, then the contraception patch may be right for you. What is it actually like to wear the patch?
The Contraception Patch
The contraception patch is one of the options if you want to use hormonal contraception. It works in a similar way to the pill, but you won’t need to remember to take it every day. Instead, you will be able to stick on your patch and then leave it to work. The contraceptive patches currently available in the UK are usually designed to work for about a week before they need to be changed. You usually wear three patches for three weeks and then take a week off. Longer-lasting forms of the patch are being developed that could provide protection for up to six months. Options such as the contraceptive implant, IUDs and coils can already provide longer term protection, but some women feel uncomfortable about having them inside their body.
Wearing the Contraceptive Patch
The contraceptive patch can be a convenient and effective option, but many women have questions about what it’s actually like to use one. Here are the important points that you need to know if you’re considering the patch:
- Contraceptive patches are beige coloured patches that usually measure about 5cm by 5cm. It sticks to your skin a bit like a plaster or nicotine patch. Although it is quite discreet, the patch will still be visible.
- You can wear the patch on any part of the body other than the breasts, but it will stick best if there isn’t much hair. Avoid areas where the skin is irritated or your clothes may rub and try to change the location each week to reduce the chances of irritation.
- You can take a bath or shower, go swimming, and even use hot tubs and saunas while wearing the patch. It’s best not to apply any creams, moisturisers or lotions over the patch as it could make it more likely to fall off.
- If you do lose a patch then you should replace it immediately with a new one. You’ll need to use another form of contraception for a week if the patch was off for more than 48 hours.
- You have to remember to change the patch once a week to stay protected.
- You will have a withdrawal bleed during your patch free week. It isn’t a true period because you didn’t ovulate and for most women it will be lighter than their usual period.
- The patch can be more than 99% effective at preventing pregnancy when used perfectly but is around 91% effective with typical use.
As with other forms of hormonal contraception, the patch isn’t suitable for everyone and can cause side effects.