Last modified on December 15th, 2020
- Easy to use and works like the pill. You have to use a new patch each week
- Effectiveness: the patch is pretty effective the way most people use it. With perfect use, 99 in every 100 women will prevent pregnancy. With typical use, or the way most people use it, the patch prevents pregnancy in 91 out of 100 women who use it.
- Side effects: nausea, irregular bleeding, and breast tenderness are most common, but these are usually temporary. Skin irritation can also occur.
- Effort: moderate. You need to use a new patch each week
- Doesn’t protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Birth Control Patch
Summary Contraceptive Patch
The patch is a thin piece of plastic that looks like a square Band-Aid. It is a little less than 5 cm across. You stick the patch on your skin, and it gives off hormones that prevent your ovaries from releasing eggs. The hormones also thicken your cervical mucus, which helps block sperm from getting to the egg in the first place.
Questions? Visit our FAQs section
It is less effort than the pill, and it does not require needles. If you do not want to take a pill every day, the patch may be a good option. You only need to remember to use a new patch once every 7 days.
The patch is best if you weigh less than 90 kilos. The patch may be less effective if you weigh more than 90 kilos. If you weigh 90 kilos or more, you should use a different contraceptive method.
You want predictable periods. If you like getting your period every month, with no spotting, then the patch may be a good choice.
You are a smoker under the age of 35. If you are over 35 years old, smoking while using the patch increases your risk of certain side effects. It is advised to discuss this with your medical provider.
You want to be able to stop using a contraceptive method and get pregnant quickly? You will be able to get pregnant right after going off the patch. If you stop using the patch and do not feel ready to get pregnant, use another method.
How To Use
- The patch is easy to use. The most difficult part is remembering to use a new one each week. Just stick a single, new patch on once a week for three weeks in a row. Do not use a patch the fourth week.
- You can put the patch on your butt, stomach, upper outer arm, or upper torso. Do not put it on your breasts.
- You will probably get your period during the week without a patch. You may still be bleeding when it is time to put the patch back on. That is normal. Put on the new patch anyways.
- Check out the tips and tricks below to make using the patch easier.
Tip 1: if you start the patch within the first 5 days of your period, you are protected from pregnancy right away. If you start later, you will have to wait 7 days before you are protected. You should use a backup method during that time.
Tip 2: think carefully about where you want to stick the patch – it will be there for a full week. You want to avoid putting the patch where you have loose skin or a lot of folds.
Tip 3: only peel off half of the clear plastic at first, so you will have a non-sticky side to hold on to.
Tip 4: do not touch the sticky part of the patch with your fingers.
Tip 5: press the patch down on your selected body part. Hold it for 10 seconds to get a good, firm stick.
Tip 6: do not use body lotion, oil, powder, creamy soaps or makeup on the spot where you put your patch. That can prevent the patch from sticking.
Tip 7: check your patch every day to make sure it is sticking right.
Tip 8: you may have a bit of lint build-up around the edges of the patch.
Tip 9: when you take a patch off, fold it in half before you throw it away. That will help keep hormones out of the soil. Do not flush it down the toilet.
Everyone is different. What you experience may not be the same thing as another person.
The Positive: there are lots of things about the patch that are good for your body as well as your sex life .
- Easy to use – it is like putting on a piece of sticking tape
- You do not need to interrupt sex to use it
- Might give you more regular, lighter periods
- May clear up acne
- Can reduce menstrual cramps and premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms
- Offers protection against some health problems: endometrial and ovarian cancer; iron deficiency anemia; ovarian cysts; and pelvic inflammatory disease
The Negative: everyone worries about negative side effects, but for many women, they are not a problem. Remember, you are introducing hormones into your body, so it can take a few months to adjust. Give it time.
Things that will probably go away after two or three months :
- Bleeding in between periods, or spotting
- Breast tenderness
- Nausea and vomiting
Things that may last longer:
- Irritation where the patch sits on your skin
- A change in your sex drive
If you feel the side effects are more than you can accept after three months, switch methods and stay protected. Condoms offer good protection while you decide what method suits your needs. Remember, there is a method for everyone, everywhere!
* For a very small number of women, there are risks of serious side effects.
 Cornell Health. (2019). The Contraceptive Patch. Cornell University , New York . Retrieved from https://health.cornell.edu/sites/health/files/pdf-library/the-patch.pdf
 Contraceptive Choice Center . (2015). Contraceptive Patch FACT SHEET. Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, St. Louis. Retrieved from https://contraceptivechoice.wustl.edu/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Contraceptive-Patch-Fact-Sheet.pdf
 Dr Marie Marie Stopes International. (2017). Contraception. Retrieved from http://www.mariestopes.org.au/wp-content/uploads/Contraception-brochure-web-200417.pdf
 FSRH The Faculty of Sexual & Reproductive Healthcare. (Amended 2019). FSRH Guideline: Combined Hormonal Contraception. Retrieved from https://www.fsrh.org/standards-and-guidance/documents/combined-hormonal-contraception/
 FPA the sexual health charity. (2019). Your guide to the contraceptive patch. Retrieved from https://www.fpa.org.uk/sites/default/files/contraceptive-patch-your-guide-2019_0.pdf
 Galzote, et al. (2017). Transdermal delivery of combined hormonal contraception: a review of the current literature. International Journal of Women´s Health. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5440026/
 Reproductive Health Access Project. (2015). THE PATCH. Retrieved from https://www.reproductiveaccess.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/factsheet_patch.pdf
 Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada. (2017). Canadian Contraception Consensus Chapter 9: Combined Hormonal Contraception. Retrieved from https://www.jogc.com/article/S1701-2163(16)39786-9/pdf
 World Health Organization Department of Reproductive Health and Research and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Center for Communication Programs (2018) Family Planning: A Global Handbook for Providers. Baltimore and Geneva. Retrieved from https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/260156/9780999203705-eng.pdf?sequence=1
 World Health Organization. (2016). Selected practice recommendations for contraceptive use. Geneva. Retrieved from https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/252267/9789241565400-eng.pdf?sequence=1