The birth control patch is a thin, beige piece of plastic that looks like a square Band-Aid®. It’s a little less than two inches across. The patch is applied to the skin and releases hormones that prevent the ovaries from releasing an egg. The hormones also thicken cervical mucus, which helps to block sperm from getting to the egg, and thins the lining of the uterus, which may prevent implantation.


The patch is really effective when it’s changed on time each week (93%).  This means that statistically 7 out of every 100 users will get pregnant using this method in the first year (Cason P, Cwiak C, Edelman A, et al. Contraceptive Technology, 22nd Edition. Burlington MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning, 2023).


The Patch costs about $55 per month without insurance.

  • With Medicaid: Free or a small co-pay
  • With insurance: Usually the cost of the co-pay
  • Without insurance: $55 (clinic)


The patch is simple to use. A new patch is applied once a week to the skin of the butt, stomach, upper outer arm, or upper torso for three weeks. Then no patch is applied for the fourth week.

The patch requires a prescription from a doctor or clinic.

Side effects

Bleeding in between periods, sore breasts, headaches, nausea and vomiting, mood swings, decreased sex drive, irritation at the patch site and for a small number of women blood clots, or stroke. For smokers, the risk of cardiovascular problems is much higher.

Patch contraceptive

effective (Cason, et al., 2023)