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What is the birth control patch?

The transdermal contraceptive patch is a safe, simple, and affordable birth control method that you wear on the skin of your belly, upper arm, butt, or back. Put a new patch on every week for 3 weeks, and it releases hormones that prevent pregnancy. Then you get a week off before you repeat the cycle.

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How does the birth control patch work?

The birth control patch prevents pregnancy by stopping sperm from meeting an egg (which is called fertilization). Like most birth control pills, the patch contains the hormones estrogen and progestin, which are similar to hormones our bodies make naturally. You wear the patch on certain parts of your body, and the hormones are absorbed through your skin.

The patch stops your ovaries from releasing eggs (called 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. Thicker cervical mucus makes it hard for sperm to swim to an egg — kind of like a sticky security guard.

Does the patch protect against STDs?

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

Luckily, using condoms every time you have sex really lowers your chances of getting or spreading STDs. The other great thing about condoms is that they also protect against pregnancy, which means that using condoms + the birth control patch gives you awesome pregnancy-preventing power.

How do I make the patch work best for me?

To get the patch’s full birth control powers, you’ve got to use it correctly. Here are some tips to help you stay on schedule and remember when it’s time to put on a new patch:

  • Use a birth control reminder app or set a weekly alarm on your phone.

  • Note your patch change days on your calendar.

  • Friends or family members who also use the patch can be your patch buddies, and you can remind each other.

  • 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 every week.

Want to be extra super-duper sure you don’t accidentally get pregnant? Also use a condom every time you have vaginal sex. That way you’ll also be protected against STDs.

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The Patch

  • 91% effective

  • Costs up to $80, 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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