Birth control patch icon

Birth control patch

  • 91% effective 
  • Replace weekly
  • Prescription required
  • Contains hormones
  • No STI/STD protection
  • Lighter periods


What is it?
  • The birth control patch is a thin square of sticky plastic that you wear on your skin. The patch releases hormones to prevent pregnancy.

  • You wear a new patch each week for 3 weeks straight. On week 4, you don’t wear a patch and get your period. Then you start the cycle over and put on a new patch at the end of week 4.

  • You wear the patch either on your belly, upper arm, butt, or back.

  • If used perfectly, the patch is 99% effective. But people aren’t perfect. So, in reality, the patch is 91% effective.1
How it works
  • The patch contains the hormones estrogen and progestin to stop you from getting pregnant. 

  • The patch releases the hormones into your body through your skin. 

  • The hormones in the patch work by:

    • Stopping your ovaries from releasing eggs. When eggs aren’t released, you can’t get pregnant.

    • Making the mucus in your cervix too thick for sperm to pass through. This prevents sperm from meeting an egg.
How to get it
  • You can get a prescription for the birth control patch at your medical facility.
  • Because of the Affordable Care Act, Kaiser Permanente members can get certain types of birth control methods at low or no cost. Check with Member Services or your provider for details.
How to use it
  • Stick a new patch on clean, dry skin on your belly, upper outer arm, butt, or back. Don’t put it on your breasts. 

  • Wear the patch for 7 days then take it off and put on a new one. Do this for 3 weeks straight. 

  • On week 4, don’t wear a patch. After 7 days without the patch, put on a new patch. It’s OK if you’re still on your period. 

  • Don’t use lotions, oils, powders, or makeup on the skin where you put your patch. It can make it hard for the patch to stick.

  • The patch is designed to stay on and work while you’re sweating and swimming. It can be worn in a bathtub, hot tub, or sauna. 

  • Make sure you fill your prescription for the patch on time so you can change it on the right schedule.
  • Getting a full 12-month supply of your prescription may help you continue your birth control without running out and having a risk of unplanned pregnancy.2 So be sure to ask your pharmacist about a 12-month supply. Depending on your coverage, you may be eligible to get a 12-month supply when filling your prescription.

  • Don’t wear a patch for more than 9 days. If you do, put on a new patch and use condoms for the next 7 days. 
  • The birth control patch is about 91% effective in preventing pregnancy. That’s because people don’t always use it correctly. 

  • You may have more regular, lighter, shorter, or less painful periods.

  • The patch can help reduce or prevent acne, period cramps, and pelvic inflammatory disease. 

  • It’s temporary. You can stop using it whenever you want to try getting pregnant.

  • You don’t have to do something every day. It’s a weekly method.
  • The birth control patch doesn’t protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs/STDs), including HIV. Even if you use the patch, you should use a condom every time you have sex to reduce your chances of getting or spreading STIs.

  • The patch may cause skin reactions or allergies on the spot where you wear it.

  • You must replace it each week. It’s important to put on a new patch around the same time and on the same day every week.

  • The patch can change your level of sexual desire.

  • Some people may experience mood changes, bloating, or headaches.

  • If you don’t use the patch correctly, you’re more likely to get pregnant.

  • Blood clots in the veins and arteries are a serious, but uncommon, side effect of using the birth control patch. Blood clots can lead to serious conditions, such as deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolus.

  • If you have uncontrolled high blood pressure, you shouldn't use the patch. It can increase your risk of stroke.

  • Smoking and using the patch can increase your risks for blood clots in your veins and arteries, high blood pressure, and stroke.


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