The Patch

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What is the birth control patch?

  • The patch is used by someone with ovaries inside their body to prevent pregnancy.
  • It is a small, light beige square patch placed on the skin.
  • It contains artificial hormones that are slowly released into the body through the skin.

How does the patch work?

  • The patch stops your ovaries from releasing an egg cell each month. If there is no egg cell, pregnancy is not possible.
  • The patch makes the cervical mucus thicker so that it’s harder for sperm to get into the cervix.
  • It also makes the lining of the uterus thinner, so it is harder for a fertilized egg cell to stick to the uterus. Even if an egg cell is released and fertilized, if it is unable to implant into the uterine lining, a pregnancy will not happen.
  • When used correctly, the patch prevents pregnancy 97-99% of the time

How do I use the patch?

  • Place the patch on a fleshy part of the body such as the buttocks, abdomen, or outer arm. Avoid areas with vital organs including the chest, upper back, around the heart, and the head.
  • Wear a new patch every week for 3 weeks in a row. To avoid skin sensitivity to the patch’s adhesive, wear it in a different place each week.
  • Always change the patch on the same day of the week.
  • Do not wear the patch during the 4th week (the patch-free week). This is when menstruation will usually occur.
  • Following the patch-free week, begin a new 3-week cycle with a new patch.
  • The patch is very sticky and should not fall off. You can wear it while swimming, exercising, taking a shower or bath, and during hot and humid weather.

How soon does it start working?

  • If you start the patch on the first day of your period, it works immediately.
  • If not, it starts working after 7 days. Use another method of birth control (such as condoms) until it starts working.

Where can I get the patch?

With a prescription from:

  • Your healthcare provider
  • A Teen Clinic (for youth 21 or younger).
  • A walk-in clinic
  • A community health clinic

Does the patch protect me from STIs and HIV?

  • No, the patch is only for pregnancy prevention.
  • Use safer sex supplies such as condoms and sex dams every time you have sex to reduce the risk of STIs (sexually transmitted infections) or HIV.

Are there any side effects?

You may feel some side effects. If they are very uncomfortable or last longer than a few months, talk to your healthcare provider.

Minor side effects may include:

  • Bleeding between periods
  • Breast discomfort
  • Headaches
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Skin irritation where the patch touches the skin.
  • Nausea (upset stomach)

Contact your health provider immediately if you have:

  • Leg pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Changes in vision
  • Sudden and severe headaches
  • Weakness or numbness in arms or legs

What if the patch falls off?

  • If the patch is off for less than 24 hours put it back on. If you cannot find it, or it won’t stay on use a new patch.
  • Keep your same patch change day schedule.
  • If the patch is off for more than 24 hours then pregnancy is a possibility if you are having penis-vagina sex. Put a new patch on as soon as you can and restart your 4-week patch cycle. This will be your new patch change day and day 1 of your patch cycle. Consider using an alternative birth control method, such as condoms, for 7 days.

Is the effective for everyone?

Always talk with your healthcare provider to figure out your personal health needs. Let them know of any pre-existing health conditions and family health history. The patch may not be right for you if:

  • You smoke, especially if you are 35 or older.
  • You are breastfeeding.
  • You have a family history of breast cancer.
  • You weigh more than 198 lbs. The dosage in the patch may not fit the needs of your body.

Where can I get more information?

  • From your health care provider, community health clinic, or public health nurse. If you need a regular healthcare provider, call the Family Doctor Finder at 204-786-7111.
  • From the Facts of Life (SERC): E-mail your questions to
  • From a Teen Clinic if you are 21 or younger
  • Online at or our youth website,

Sexuality Education Resource Centre 2023

To view or download a PDF version of this information, click here: The Patch

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