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
  • 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.
  • You can get a prescription for the birth control patch at your medical facility.
  • In the United States, the average cost for one month’s supply of patches is $150. The cost may vary depending on where you live.

  • Kaiser Permanente members may be able to get birth control patches at low or no cost.2  
  • 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.

  • 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.

  • It can be used after you have a baby and while you’re breastfeeding.

  • 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 or arteries are a serious, but uncommon, side effect of using the birth control patch. Blood clots can lead to serious conditions like stroke, heart attack, or deep vein thrombosis.

  

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© 2019 Kaiser Permanente

1“Birth control patch,” Planned Parenthood, plannedparenthood.org/learn/birth-control/birth-control-patch/how-effective-is-the-birth-control-patch, accessed August 13, 2019.

2Costs are dependent on your policy terms. For questions about your coverage, please call Member Services or view your benefit coverage documents.