Using the Contraceptive Patch

Please be advised: Our Fact Sheets are currently under review.  If you have any questions about a contraceptive method please contact our Sex Sense Line at 1-800-SEX-SENSE or book an appointment with an Opt clinic. 

General rules for using the patch

  • The patch works on a 4 week (28 day cycle)
  • Use the stickers in the package, a calendar, or your cell phone to help remind you of what day to change your patch.
  • Only wear one patch at a time
  • Place the patch on one of four areas: buttock, abdomen, upper body (NOT the breasts), or upper outer arm
  • When you change the patch, put it on a different area of skin to avoid irritation
  • Do not decorate or cut the patch in any way
  • Do not use tape or glue to keep the patch in place
  • You can exercise, swim, sweat and shower with the patch on
  • The patch does not protect against sexually transmitted infections

How do I use the patch?

A new patch is worn every week for the first 3 weeks and is changed on the same day each week. This day is called the Patch Change Day (e.g., if you apply your first patch on a Monday, all of your patches should be applied on a Monday)

Week 1: Put patch on and leave on for 7 days (1 week).

Week 2: Take off old patch, put on new patch. Leave new patch on for 7 days.

Week 3: Take off old patch, put on new patch. Leave new patch on for 7 days.

Week 4: Take off patch. Do not apply another patch for 7 days (1 week). Your period should start this week.

Week 5: Start the next 4-week cycle at week 1 and continue.

How soon after starting the patch will I be protected against pregnancy?

  • If you apply your first patch during the first 24 hours of your menstrual period, you will not need to use additional contraception.
  • If you put the patch on at any other time of the month, you must use back up such as condoms or not having sex for the first week (7 days)

The patch does not protect against sexually transmitted infections.

What about side effects?

The possible side effects of the patch are the same as for combined birth control pills, and may include skin irritation where the patch is placed.

How do I remove and dispose of the patch?

When removing the used patch, simply lift one corner and peel off. Dispose in the garbage out of the reach of children and pets.

See Problems with the Patch if you have missed a patch or the patch comes off.

RS 403
Revised March 2009