What it is?
The contraceptive patch, also called Evra. It is a small beige patch applied to the skin like a sticky plaster which protects against pregnancy. It contains the same hormones as the pill, oestrogen and progestogen.
The patch can be worn discreetly on any of the following areas:
- Upper arm
- Upper torso
The patch should not be applied to:
- Breast area
- Broken or irritated skin
How it works.
The patch releases a daily dose of two hormones, oestrogen and progestogen into the bloodstream through the skin.
- It stops the ovaries from releasing an egg for fertilisation every month.
- It thickens the mucus around the cervix, making it difficult for sperm to meet the egg.
- It makes the lining of the uterus (womb) thinner so it is less likely to accept a fertilised egg.
When can I start the patch?
You can start the patch anytime in your menstrual cycle if you are sure you’re not pregnant.
If you start the patch on the first day of your period you will be protected against pregnancy immediately.
You can also start to use the patch up to and including the fifth day of your period and you will be protected from pregnancy immediately.
If you start the patch at any other time you will need to use additional contraception for 7 days.
You can start using the patch immediately after a miscarriage or abortion. You will be protected from pregnancy immediately.
- Does not interrupt sex
- Women do not have to remember to take a pill
- You only need to remember to replace the patch once a week
- Patch is not affected if you vomit or have diarrhoea
- Does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) so use of condoms is recommended
- Can be seen
- Can cause temporary side effects like headaches and skin problems and nausea.
- Breakthrough bleeding (unexpected bleeding while using the patch) and spotting may occur especially in the first few months.
- Contains the same hormones as the combined pill, which in a small number of women can cause serious side effects such as blood clots and breast cancer. For most women the benefits of the patch outweigh the risks.
How effective is it?
The patch is 99% effective when used correctly.
What makes it less effective?
- Forgetting to change the patch after seven days
- Not wearing the patch on the first day of a period
- If the patch falls off and is not re-applied, or if a new one is not put on immediately
- Use of some prescription medicines
For more information on different forms of contraception, go to our contraception advice page.