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Birth Control: How to Use the Patch


Talk to your doctor about what day to start using the patch. Doctors usually recommend that the first patch be placed on the first day of your next menstrual period. If the patch is started on any other day, use a backup method of birth control for 7 days. Start the patch on a day that is easy to remember.

The skin (transdermal) patch is a highly effective method of birth control when it is used exactly as directed. The patch failure rate is the same as that of birth control pills.

  1. Apply the patch.

    It can be applied to your lower belly, your buttocks, or your upper body, but not on the breasts.

  2. Wear each patch continuously until you replace it the next week.
  3. Replace the old patch with a new one once a week on the same day of the week for 3 weeks.

    The patch delivers the hormones daily over 7 days. No patch is worn during the fourth week. So you'll have your period that week.

When you remove a patch, dispose of it carefully. Because of environmental concerns about hormones in the water supply, don't flush it down the toilet.

A small number of women have reported that the patch has partially or completely come off. If this happens before your patch is due to be changed, put on a replacement patch right away.

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Current as of: November 27, 2023

Author: Healthwise Staff
Clinical Review Board
All Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.


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