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The Patch: Side Effects, Benefits and FAQs

Side Effects

The Positive

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
  • Offers protection against some nasty health problems, like endometrial and ovarian cancer, iron deficiency anemia, ovarian cysts, and pelvic inflammatory disease

The Negative

Everyone worries about negative side effects, but for most women, 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.

Things that will probably go away after two or three months:
  • Bleeding in between periods
  • Breast tenderness
  • 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.


  • What should I do about skin irritation from the patch?

    Some women do experience irritation from the adhesive.

    Try this: You could try moving it to another recommended spot to see if that lessens the effect. You can also put a little over the counter cortisone cream on the irritated area and it will probably get better quickly. Or, if you’ve been moving it around, try keeping it in one spot (and watch Geraldine talk about how this has worked for her).

    For more help, visit a provider at a nearby The Right Time health center.

  • How much does the patch cost?

    This method may be free or low-cost for you at The Right Time health centers. Without insurance, the patch costs about $55 per month, a little more than other prescription methods.

    If you’re on Medicaid or have private insurance, you’ll probably just have to cover your copay.

  • Will the patch fall off?

    Patches fall off only about 5% of the time—so not very often. But if the patch falls off, no worries. You can stick the same patch back on if it’s been less than 24 hours and the patch is still sticky. Or, you can just apply a new patch.

    DO NOT use bandages, tape, or adhesive to make a non-sticky patch stick. The hormones that keep you from getting pregnant are mixed with the adhesive, so if it won’t stick, it’s also not going to be effective as birth control.

    Try this: Make sure you don’t use any “lotions or potions” (you know, powders, creams, medications, etc.) on your skin where you put the patch. Even moisturizing after the shower can interfere with the patch sticking.

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Our partner health centers are focused on you. They provide access to all methods of birth control and free or low-cost birth control to those who need it.