You simply peel off the back of the patch and apply it directly to your skin – on your lower abdomen, buttocks, upper arm, or even your back. You wear it for a week and then replace it with a new one. You should do this for 3 weeks so that you wear the patch for a total of 21 days. During the fourth week, you have a break and don’t wear the patch for 7 days, which allows for menstrual bleeding (also known as a withdrawal bleed). Then you repeat that routine.
If you want, you can choose to shorten your break without the patch or even miss it altogether to avoid having a withdrawal bleed.
You can put the patch on most areas of your body, as long as the skin is clean, dry and not very hairy. You shouldn't stick the patch onto your breasts, sore or irritated skin or an area where it may get rubbed off by clothing. It's also a good idea to change the position of each new patch to help reduce the chance of skin irritation.
You can be prescribed the patch by your doctor or a nurse.
When you first get the contraceptive patch you will be given a 3-month supply, to see how you get on with it. If there are no problems, you can be prescribed the patch for a year at a time.
You can get contraception for free, even if you’re under 16, from:
Sexual health or GUM (genitourinary medicine) clinics
Some GP surgeries
Some young people's services
PP-UN-WHC-GB-0079 September 2023