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What is the birth control patch?

The transdermal contraceptive patch is a safe and convenient birth control method that works really well if you always use it correctly. You wear the patch on certain parts of your body, and it releases hormones through your skin that prevent pregnancy.  The patch has lots of other health benefits, too.

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How does the birth control patch work?

The birth control patch prevents pregnancy by stopping sperm from joining with an egg (which is called fertilization). 

Like most birth control pills, the patch contains the hormones estrogen and progestin. These are similar to the hormones our bodies make naturally. You wear the patch on your belly, upper arm, butt, or back, and your skin absorbs the hormones into your body.

The hormones in the patch stop ovulation. No ovulation means there’s no egg hanging around for sperm to fertilize, so pregnancy can’t happen.

The patch’s hormones also thicken the mucus on your cervix. This thicker cervical mucus blocks sperm so it can’t swim to an egg — kind of like a sticky security guard.

There is one birth control patch brand available in the U.S.: the Xulane patch.

How do I make the patch work best for me?

To get the patch’s full birth control powers, you have to use it correctly. Making a mistake — like forgetting to refill your prescription or not putting on a new patch on time — is the main reason why people might get pregnant when they’re using the patch.

Here are some tips to help you stay on schedule and remember when it’s time to put on a new patch:

  • Use Spot On, our birth control reminder app or set a weekly alarm on your phone.

  • Note your patch change days on your calendar.

  • Be patch buddies with friends or family members who also use the patch, and help each other remember.

  • Your partner can help remind you.

  • Keep your replacement patches in the same place so you don’t lose them.

  • Store your patches at room temperature, and away from direct sunlight. Don’t store them in the refrigerator or freezer. Keep each patch sealed in its pouch until right before you put it on.

Bottom line: do whatever works for you to make sure you change your patch on time, all the time.

Want to be extra super-duper sure you don’t accidentally get pregnant? You can use a condom with the patch every time you have penis-in-vagina sex. That way you’ll be protected from STDs, too.

Does the patch protect against STDs?

Nope. The patch is really good at preventing pregnancy, but it won’t protect you from sexually transmitted infections.

Using condoms every time you have sex really lowers your chances of getting or spreading STDs. Condoms also protect against pregnancy — so using condoms and the patch together gives you awesome pregnancy-preventing power.

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The Patch

  • 91% effective

  • Costs up to $150, but can be $0

  • Prescription required

  • Change it once a week

The patch doesn’t protect you from STDs. Use a condom with your patch to help stop pregnancy and STDs.
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