The 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. It comes in only one color – beige. 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. The mucus helps block sperm from getting to the egg in the first place.

Quick facts:

  • 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
    • Perfect use: greater than

      99%

    • Typical use:

      91%

  • Side effects: nausea, irregular bleeding, sore boobs are most common, but usually temporary
  • Effort: high. You need to use a new patch each week.

The Patch

Quick facts:

The patch is a thin piece of plastic that looks like a square Band-Aid. It is a little less than 5 cm across. It comes in only one color – beige. 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. The mucus helps block sperm from getting to the egg in the first place.

  • 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
    • Perfect use: greater than

      99%

    • Typical use:

      91%

  • Side effects: nausea, irregular bleeding, sore boobs are most common, but usually temporary
  • Effort: high. You need to use a new patch each week.

It is less effort than the pill. 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 method of birth control.

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.

You want to be able to stop using birth control and get pregnant quickly. You will be able to get pregnant right after going off the patch. If you are not ready for a baby, use another method if you stop using the patch.

  • 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 (like Dove or Caress), 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 woman.

The Positive: there are actually lots of things about birth control that are good for your body as well as your sex life.

  • Easy to use – it is like sticking on a Band Aid.
  • 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 PMS
  • 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 still feel uncomfortable after three months, switch methods and stay protected.

* For a very small number of women there are risks of serious side effects.

We are here to help you. If it still does not feel right, we have ideas for other methods. Just remember: If you change methods, make sure you use another method while you switch.

What if the patch keeps falling off?

  • Patches do not fall off very often. But if the patch falls off do not worry about it. You can stick the same patch back on if it has been less than 24 hours, and the patch is still sticky. Or you can use a new patch.
  • DO NOT use bandages, tape, or adhesive to make a non-sticky patch stick. The hormones that keep you from getting pregnant are mixed with the adhesive, so if it will not stick, it is also not going to be effective birth control
  • Try this: make sure you do not use any lotions, oils, powders, creams, or medications on your skin where you put the patch. Using lotion or oils after bathing can interfere with the patch sticking as well.
  • Still not working? If it keeps falling off, maybe you want to try a method that goes on the inside. Maybe the implant, an IUD, or the ring.
  • Try a different method: implant; IUD; ring

What if I have trouble remembering to change the patch?

  • Try this: set a reminder on your phone.
  • Still not working? If you use a reminder system and you are still having trouble remembering, you might want to consider a method that you can forget about for several months or several years. Maybe the shot, an implant, or an IUD.
  • Try a different method: implant; IUD; shot

What do I do if I have some skin irritation from the patch?

  • Some women do experience irritation from the adhesive.
  • Try this: move the patch to another recommended spot. It might lessen the effect. If you have been moving it around, try keeping it in one spot. If your skin is still irritated, try using a little bit of cortisone cream. It will probably get better quickly.
  • Still not working? If it does not get any better, consider a method without adhesive. Here are some options that you have to think about even less than the patch: the shot, the implant, an IUD, or the ring.
  • Try a different method: implant; IUD; ring; shot

What should I do if I do not like the hormonal side effects?

  • Use the patch for a couple months. The side effects may settle in that time frame.
  • Still not working? You may not get the same side effects with other hormonal methods. If things do not get better with time, consider using the ring, shot, IUD, or implant.
  • Try a different method: implant; IUD; ring; shot

Is the patch bad for the environment?

  • Any form of birth control is better than no birth control when it comes to the environment.
  • Some of the hormones from the patch will enter the environment through a woman’s urine. But it is smaller than other sources of estrogen in the environment.
  • Estrogen from industrial and manufacturing processes, fertilizers and pesticides, and the drugs given to animals all enter the environment in larger amounts than the estrogen in a woman’s urine from the patch.
  • If you do not want to add hormones to the environment or your body, there are options for you. Natural latex condoms and the copper IUD are both good options. Whatever you decide, pick a method and keep using it.
  • Still not working? If would like to use a very effective method without any hormones, try the ParaGard IUD.

Why does my patch leave a square of dark sticky stuff around it?

  • No need to worry, it is most likely just bits of dust and dirt catching in the adhesive that makes the patch stay on your skin. While the patch is in place there is not too much you can do. Try not to remove the patch or pick at the edges because it can make the patch not stick. Once you take the patch off, try rubbing a little bit of oil on the marks. They should come right off with a little scrubbing.
  • Still not working? If the sticky stuff bothers you and you want a birth control method you do not have to remember every day or every time you have sex, you may want to check out the implant, the IUD, the ring, or the shot.
  • Try a different method: implant; IUD; ring; shot