How well does the birth control patch work?
When used correctly (as directed on the package insert), the patch is over 99% effective. This means that within a year, out of 100 women using the patch, fewer than one of them will become pregnant.
Correct use requires taking off the patch when you need to and replacing it at the right time, including after your patch-free week is over and you’re starting a new cycle. But correct use isn’t always possible. Life happens.
When life happens, it’s called “typical” use. This includes forgetting to change the patch, putting it on late or the patch coming off by mistake. When used “typically,” the patch is still around 91% effective. So that means 9 in 100 women using it will get pregnant over a whole year.
When to start using birth control patches
When you should start using the patch depends on whether you’re already using hormonal birth control.
If you haven’t been using other birth control methods, you can start using the patch on the first day of your period — or any day of your period up until the fifth day. You’ll be protected against pregnancy straight away.
If you start on any other day, you won’t be protected immediately and should use a back-up birth control method like condoms for a week. That gives the hormones in the patch enough time to become active.
When switching from the combined pill to the patch, put the patch on one day before your pill-pack finishes. If you’re changing from the contraceptive ring to the patch, you should put on a patch two days before removing the ring.
Where to put the birth control patch on the body
You can wear the patch on your thighs, buttocks, upper outer arm or upper body. Just make sure to place it on clean, unbroken skin. Don’t place the patch on dry, irritated or cracked skin.
Wherever you place the patch, make sure that it won’t be rubbed by tight clothes. This could make the patch less sticky, causing it to fall off. Be careful when applying lotions, creams or powders to the area where the patch is too.
When it’s time for you to take your patch off and put on a fresh one, you should place your new one on the opposite side of your body. Change your placement each week. If you’ve just worn your patch on the left side, wear the next one on your right.