The patch looks like a plaster and sticks on skin anywhere on the body. It releases an even dose of the hormones oestrogen and progesterone to prevent pregnancy.
The combination of oestrogen and progesterone stops ovulation, so the ovaries don't release an egg each month. It also works by thickening mucus in the cervix, which makes it hard for sperm to pass through and fertilise an egg and the womb becomes thinner, which means if an egg were to fertilise, it couldn't attach itself to the womb.
Convenient. Stick it on and forget about it for a week (you use one a week for three weeks and then have a week off). It may make periods lighter and reduce the risk of ovarian, breast, womb and bowel cancer, fibroids and ovarian cysts.
Possible side effects include headaches, nausea, breast pain, blood clot and mood swings. You need to remember to take the patch off or replace it if it falls off (although it is durable and stays on during swimming or bathing). It doesn't protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) so to have safe sex, you will still need to use condoms.
Many women, but if you're very overweight, 35 or over and smoke or smoked until recently, have had breast cancer, diabetes, heart problems, lupus or blood clots, take medicines for HIV, epilepsy, tuberculosis (TB), some antibiotics or St John's Wort, seek medical advice as it may not be suitable for you.
Last updated April 20, 2018