Birth control patch

What is it?

  • The birth control patch is a thin, flexible, square patch that is worn on clean, dry skin to prevent pregnancy.
  • The patch continuously releases hormones into the bloodstream through the skin.

How it works

  • Each patch is worn for one week and changed on the same day for three weeks. The fourth week of the month no patch is worn.
  • The hormones estrogen and progesterone prevent pregnancy by stopping the ovaries from releasing an egg.
  • They may also make it harder for sperm to get into the uterus by thickening the mucous in the cervix.


  • The patch is more than 99% effective at preventing pregnancy when used perfectly.
  • For women who have trouble remembering to take a pill every day, the patch may work better than the Pill.
  • It may be a bit less effective in women who weigh more than 90 kg (198 pounds).
  • The patch does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Always use a latex condom when you have sex to reduce your risk of getting an STI or HIV infection.

Where to wear the patch

  • The patch can be worn on the buttocks, stomach, back or upper arms, but not on the breasts.
  • The patch should be applied to clean, dry skin.
  • You should not use any creams or lotions near a patch you’re already wearing, or where you’ll be applying a new one.
  • The patch is very sticky. You can get it wet while swimming. Exercising, showering or in the bath and it should not fall off.

What if the patch becomes loose or falls off?

  • Check the patch each day to make sure it is secure to your skin.
  • If the edges come loose, press the edges firmly with the palm of your hand. If the patch does not stick, remove it and apply a new one. You will still need to change the patch on your regular patch change day.
  • If the patch has been off for more than 24 hours, follow the instructions that come with the patch and use non-hormonal method of birth control.

Where can I get the Patch?

  • You must get the patch from a doctor or health clinic.

Are there any side effects?

  • Smoking cigarettes and using the patch will increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.
  • Using the patch may cause minor side effects such as breast tenderness, nausea, abdominal cramping, mild headaches or skin irritation.
  • Minor side effects usually go way after using the patch for three months.
  • If side effects continue, speak with a Public Health Nurse.

Serious side effects are rare. Seek medical attention right away if you have

A bdominal pain (severe)
C hest pain (severe), cough, shortness of breath
eadaches (severe) or dizziness
E ye problems (blurred vision or loss of vision)
S evere leg pain (calf or thigh)
S peech problems

What if I forget to change my Patch?

  • Always remove the old patch before applying a new one as soon as you remember, then follow the instructions that come with the package, and call your physician or speak to a Public Health Nurse.