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The Patch

A thin piece of plastic that a girl sticks on her body; you put on a new one on once each week.


The patch is a thin, beige piece of plastic that looks like a square Band-Aid. Put on a new patch each week, then go patchless for the fourth week.


You stick the patch on your skin (specifically on your butt, stomach, upper outer arm, or upper torso) and it gives off hormones that prevent your ovaries from releasing eggs. The hormones also thicken your cervical mucus, which helps to block sperm from getting to the egg in the first place.


The patch is 91% effective. Note: When we talk about effectiveness we mean typical use numbers or what happens when couples used this method of birth control prettywell; it accounts for human errors and occasional contraceptive failure. BUT, teenagers are often not as careful as older people in using these methods, so real typical use rates for teens may be a little worse than what you see here. Keep that in mind as you're looking at the options and remember that for birth control to be effective, you have to use it consistently and correctly every single time.


  • Effective.
  • Easier to remember (than a daily method like the pill).
  • Easy to use.
  • Always available (if you keep on schedule).
  • Relatively private.
  • Longer-term coverage (good for one week at a time).


  • Some women report skin irritation on the spot where they place their patch.
  • Nausea and sore breasts.
  • Irregular bleeding (using the patch can cause spotting).
  • No STI protection (it’s a good idea to double up with a second method like a male/female condom if you’re using the patch as your primary method). 

Note: Not every woman experiences these drawbacks—they are just some of the ones that are commonly reported. Talk to your medical provider to learn more and keep in mind that if this method doesn’t work for you, there are LOTS more out there…but it’s best to wait at least six months to see if things get better before you decide to switch. If they don’t, or if you just can’t deal with them, talk with your medical provider about finding something that works for you.


Yep; because the patch is a hormonal contraceptive, you’ll need a medical provider to give you a prescription. BUT, once you’ve gotten your prescription (and filled it), you apply/remove the patch on your own.

Need to find a health center? We can help!

Back to Birth Control Explorer

Teenagers sitting on a tree limb

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