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Combined Hormonal Patch

What is it?

 The contraceptive patch is a small, thin, beige coloured patch, nearly 5cm x 5cm in size. You stick it on your skin and it releases two hormones - oestrogen and progestogen.

Not everyone can use the combined patch so your doctor or nurse will need to ask you about your own and your family's medical history, any medicines you take (including herbal remedies) and whether you smoke.

You don't need a breast or vaginal examination before you can start the patch.

All our clinics stock patches and you will usually leave with a supply.

You can get the patch free of charge from your GP or any Sandyford clinic.

How effective is it?

Contraceptive use can either be perfect (always correct) or typical (more accurate, as it’s sometimes difficult to use contraception correctly every time).
With typical use of the combined patch, approximately 8 in 100 people become pregnant within the first year of use.

What makes it less effective?

Some medications including some herbal medicines can make your contraception less effective. Always tell your doctor, dentist or chemist if using the combined patch.

What are the advantages?

  • You don't have to think about it every day; you only have to remember to replace the patch once each week.
  • It is easy to use.
  • The effectiveness of the patch is not affected if you vomit or have diarrhoea, unlike the pill. 
  • The patch does not interfere with having sex in any way.
  • It usually makes your periods regular, lighter and less painful.
  • May help with premenstrual symptoms.
  • Gives the option to avoid having your period at inconvenient times.
  • Protects against cancer of the ovary, uterus and colon.
  • Can help to improve spotty skin.
  • May reduce risk of fibroids, ovarian cysts and non-cancerous breast disease.

Are there any disadvantages?

  • It can be seen.
  • For a few women it can cause skin irritation.
  • You may get some temporary side effects when you first start using the patch, these should stop within a few months. They can include headaches, feeling sick, breast tenderness, mood swings or your appetite may be increased.
  • A very small number of women may develop blood clots (thrombosis), heart attack or stroke.
  • Small increased risk of breast cancer, which disappears with time after stopping the patch.
  • Breakthrough bleeding (unexpected vaginal bleeding on patch using days) sometimes called spotting, is common in the first months of use.
  • The patch protects you from pregnancy but not sexually transmitted infections.

 Only condoms can provide protection against most infections.

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