The Patch is a hormonal method!
It’s a thin, beige piece of plastic that looks like a square BAND-AID®. It’s a little less than two inches across, and comes in one—and only one—color. (Beige. We know, there needs to be more colors.) You stick the patch on your skin and it gives off hormones that prevent your ovaries from releasing eggs.
THE PATCH IS SIMPLE TO USE.
The only tricky part is remembering the schedule for putting the patch on and taking it off. You can put the patch on your butt, stomach, upper outer arm, or upper torso (back)—never on your boobs, though. Just stick a single, new patch on once a week for three weeks in a row, then go patchless (no patch) for the fourth week. For example, let’s say it’s Tuesday and you put on a new patch. Tuesday becomes your “patch change day.” In other words, patches will always go on (or off) on Tuesdays. You’ll probably get your period during the patchless week, and you may still be bleeding when it’s time to put the patch back on. That’s totally normal. Put it on anyway.
Check out these tips and tricks to make the whole thing easier and remember, talk to your health care provider to learn more and remember, any birth control decision such as the patch should be a fully informed decision free of coercion.
If you start the patch within the first 5 days of your period, you’re protected from pregnancy right away. If you start later, you’ll have to wait 7 days before you’re protected, and you’ll need to use a backup method, such as a condom.
Think carefully about where you want to stick the patch—it’ll be there for a full week. Like, what will you be wearing? How squishy is your flesh in each spot?
Only peel off half of the clear plastic at first, so you’ll have a non-sticky side to hold on to.
Don’t touch the sticky part of the patch with your fingers. It’s not easy to unstick.
Press the patch down for a full 10 seconds to get a good, firm stick.
Don’t use body lotion, oil, powder, creamy soaps (like Dove or Caress) or makeup on the spot where you put your patch. Stuff like that can keep the patch from sticking.
Check your patch every day to make sure it’s sticking right.
Fuzz happens. You’ll probably get a bit of lint build-up around the edges, so plan accordingly. You can use baby oil to get any remaining adhesive off your skin.
When you take a patch off, fold it in half before you throw it in the trash. That’ll help keep hormones out of the soil. And don’t flush them. The earth will thank you.
THERE ARE POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE THINGS TO SAY
about each and every method. And everyone’s different—so what you experience may not be the same as what your friend experiences.
Positive “side effects”? You bet. There are actually lots of things about birth control that are good for your body as well as your sex life.
Easy to use—it’s like sticking on a BAND-AID®
Doesn’t interrupt the heat of the moment
Might give you more regular, lighter periods
May clear up acne
Can reduce menstrual cramps and PMS
May offer some relief against health problems, like endometrial and ovarian cancer, iron deficiency anemia, ovarian cysts, and pelvic inflammatory disease
Everyone worries about negative side effects, but for most people, they’re not a problem. Remember, you’re introducing hormones into your body, so it can take a few months to adjust. Give it time but if you feel uncomfortable or unsure, contact your healthcare provider.
THINGS THAT WILL PROBABLY GO AWAY AFTER TWO OR THREE MONTHS:
Bleeding in between periods
Nausea and vomiting
THINGS THAT MAY LAST LONGER:
Irritation where the patch sits on your skin
A change in your sex drive
If you still feel uncomfortable after three months, switch methods and stay protected. You’re worth it.
*For a very small number of women there are risks of serious side effects.
LESS EFFORT THAN THE PILL
If you’re the kind of person who would have trouble remembering to take a pill every day, the patch might be a good option. You only need to remember to do something once a week.
YOU WEIGH LESS THAN 198 POUNDS
The patch is less effective if you weigh more than 198 pounds. (Random number, right?) So take that into consideration.
If you’re the type of person who feels comforted by getting their period every month—and by not having random spotting in between—then this might just be the choice for you.
SMOKERS OVER 35, BEWARE
If you’re over 35, smoking on the patch increases your risk of certain side effects. And if you’re younger, why not quit now and save yourself the trouble?
THE PREGNANCY QUESTION
You’ll be able to get pregnant right after going off the patch. So don’t take any chances. If you’re not ready for a baby, protect yourself with another method.