What is the birth control patch? How does the patch work?
The patch is a thin piece of plastic you wear on your skin, just like a Band-Aid. You can wear the patch on your stomach, arm, bottom, or back. Apply to skin that’s clean and dry. Your skin absorbs the hormones into your body instead of ingesting them in the form of a pill.
The patch contains progestin and estrogen, which are hormones that prevent your ovaries from releasing eggs each month and thicken your cervical mucus.
How often do I use the patch?
The patch needs to be changed once weekly on the same day at the same time for three weeks. Skip the patch for the fourth week while you have your period. Your skin may become irritated if you put the patch in the same place every time, so it’s okay to put it in a nearby area.
What happens if I put on the patch late?
The patch is designed to stay in place on your body, but it does sometimes become loose or falls off completely. If it has been less than 24 hours that you’ve been without a patch, put on a new patch as soon as you remember. If it’s been more than 24 hours, apply a new patch and use a back up method, such as condoms, for the next 7 days. If you had previously been putting on a new patch every Sunday, but you forgot and applied it on a Monday, now you should change your patch on Mondays moving forward.
How effective is it?
With typical use, the patch is 91% effective. With perfect use, it is greater than 99% effective.
To make sure the patches work properly, store them at room temperature, away from direct sunlight. Keep extra patches sealed in their packaging until you put them on your body. Don’t use lotion in the area that you put the patch to make sure it sticks to your skin firmly.
Is the patch waterproof?
Yes! You should keep the patch on when you shower or swim.
What are the side effects?
Patch users mostly complain about nausea, breast tenderness, and spotting while on the patch.
The patch isn’t for everyone. The doctor may not recommend the patch if you:
Can I skip my period on the patch?
The patch is intended to be used by applying one new patch every week for three weeks and then removed for one patch-free week. It is not recommended to skip periods with the patch.
What brands of the patch are available?
Xulane and Zafemy are the only two brands of the birth control patch available today. The patch is often covered by insurance (including Medicaid) for $0, or it’s available out of pocket for $170/month.
Does it protect me against sexually transmitted infections?
The patch does not provide protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), so a barrier method (external condom, internal condom, dental dam) should be used in addition to the pill.
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