What to Do if the Patch Falls Off or You Make a Mistake Using It

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We all make mistakes. And it’s pretty common for women to make a mistake at some time when using the birth control patch — a thin, plastic patch that sticks to the skin and is used to prevent pregnancy.

If you use the patch, you may forget to change the patch on time. You may forget to put the patch on after your patch-free week. Or you may make no mistakes, and the patch may become loose or fall off. The key to protecting yourself from an unplanned pregnancy is knowing what to do if any of these things happen to you.

Here are some general instructions. Talk with your health care provider for more information.

If You Forget to Change or Apply the Patch on Time

If You Apply the Patch Late During

What to Do

Week one

Apply a new patch as soon as you remember. This will become your new “patch change day” — the day of the week you normally change your patch. Wear the late patch for one week.

Use a backup method — like a condom, female condom, diaphragm, or sponge —  for seven days after you apply the new patch.

If you have had vaginal intercourse without using a backup method, take emergency contraception (morning after pill). You can take it up to five days after unprotected intercourse to prevent pregnancy. But the sooner you take it, the better it works.

Week two or three

If you are one or two days late changing your patch

  • Change it as soon as you remember.
  • Change to your next patch on your regular patch change day.

If you are more than two days late changing your patch

  • Change it as soon as you remember. Wear it for one week.
  • Change to your next patch on this day of the week — this becomes your new patch change day. That means that if it’s a Tuesday when you remember to change your patch, you will continue to apply, change, or remove your patches on Tuesdays from then on — even if you had been changing your patches on a different day.
  • Use a backup method for seven days after you apply the new patch.
  • If you have had vaginal intercourse without using a backup method, use emergency contraception — up to five days after you have unprotected intercourse.

If you forget to remove the patch on time during the fourth week, simply remove the patch when you remember. Apply a new patch on your regular patch change day.

If a patch becomes loose or falls off

  • for less than one day, reapply the patch. If the patch will not stick well, apply a new patch. Change the patch on your regular patch change day.
  • for more than one day or if you are unsure how long it has been loose or off, apply a new patch. This day of the week will become your new patch change day.

Use a backup method for seven days after you apply the new patch. Wear the replacement patch for one week. If you have had vaginal intercourse without using a backup method, use emergency contraception — up to five days after you have unprotected intercourse.

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