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The Patch

Quick Facts

Moderately Effective

Does not protect against STDs

Easy to use

You change it once a week

 You need a prescription

A patch, which looks like a square pink bandage

More About the Patch

  • The Patch is a thin, beige piece of plastic that looks like a square bandage. It sticks to your skin and it’s easy to use.
  • The Patch has hormones that stop eggs from leaving the ovaries. It also thickens cervical mucus, which blocks sperm from getting to the egg. If sperm can’t get to an egg, you can’t get pregnant.
  • The Patch has the same hormones as the Pill, and like the Pill you need a prescription to use it. But instead of taking a pill every day, you wear a new patch for a full week at a time and replace it every week for 3 weeks. 
  • Because the hormones in the patch are the same ones that are in the pill and the ring, the benefits, limitations, and side effects are similar.

How to Use the Patch

What you need to do:

  • You can start using the patch any time during your menstrual cycle
  • Choose where to place the patch on your body – it can go on your arm, butt, stomach or back – but not on your breasts
  • Place the patch on a clean, dry area of skin (clean off any oil, lotion or make-up first) and press firmly for 10 seconds to make sure it is good and stuck
  • Check your patch every day to make sure it’s still sticking
  • Remember to change the patch once a week at the same time. You can set a reminder on your phone to help you remember when to put on a new one.
  • Don’t use a patch on the fourth week
A woman placing the patch on her upper arm
Yellow donut chart showing 91%. The title says "91% effective with typical use"
Donut chart showing 99%. The title says "Over 99% effective with perfect use"

Effectiveness

  • 91% effective with typical use. This means that on average, 9 out of 100 women using this method will get pregnant in a year. You can improve effectiveness by:
    • Remembering to change it on time – you can set a reminder on your phone to help you remember!
    • If you weigh more than 198 pounds, the patch may be less effective, so talk to your provider about other methods that may work better for you
  • More than 99% effective with perfect use. This means that if the patch is used correctly all the time, less than 1 out of 100 women will get pregnant in a year.
  • Some medications may make the patch less effective. So talk to your Family PACT provider to see if this might affect you.

Benefits

  • It is easy to use.
  • You don’t need to remember it every day.
  • It doesn’t interrupt the heat of the moment.
  • Most women will have a predictable period every month with little or no spotting.
  • It can help with acne, iron deficiency anemia, cramps and PMS (premenstrual syndrome).
  • It protects against a number of other health problems such as certain cancers, anemia, ovarian cysts, and pelvic infections.
Nine hands each holding a thumbs up
A young woman holds up her hands as if weighing options and looks thoughtful

Side Effects and Limitations

Most side effects go away on their own, so give it some time. If you have side effects that don’t improve after 3 months, talk with your Family PACT provider about switching to something that works better for you. Just make sure to stay protected by starting a new method right away.

Possible side effects (usually go away in 2-3 months) are:

  • Spotting or bleeding between your periods
  • Nausea
  • Breast tenderness
  • A change in your sex drive
  • Skin irritation where the patch was worn

Limitations:

  • Not recommended for women 35 and older who smoke cigarettes
  • Slightly less effective for women who weigh over 198 lbs
  • Only comes in the color beige, so it won’t match all skin tones
  • Doesn’t protect you from HIV and STDs
  • Need to change the patch on time

Family PACT Coverage

If you are eligible, Family PACT covers the cost of the patch. A provider can help you decide if the patch is the best choice for you. You can search for a Family PACT provider near you by clicking on the “Provider Search” button in the right hand corner of this page.

California Department of Health Care Services Family PACT logo