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Birth Control: How to Use the Patch - Topic Overview

The skin (transdermal) patch camera.gif is a highly effective method of birth control when it is used exactly as directed. The patch failure rate is the same as that of birth control pills.

Talk to your doctor about what day to start using the patch. It is usually recommended that the first patch be placed on the first day of your next menstrual period. If the patch is started on any other day, use a backup method of birth control for 7 days. Start the patch on a day that is easy to remember.

The patch can be applied to your lower abdomen, buttocks, or upper body but not on the breasts. Apply a new patch once a week on the same day of the week for 3 weeks. The patch delivers the hormones daily over 7 days. Wear each patch continuously until you replace it the following week. No patch is worn during the fourth week, so you have a menstrual period.

A small number of women have reported that the patch has partially or completely come off. If this happens before your patch is due to be changed, apply a replacement patch right away.

A small number of women have some mild to moderate skin irritation from the patch.

When you remove a patch, dispose of it carefully. Because of environmental concerns about hormones in the water supply, don't flush it down the toilet.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: May 03, 2012
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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