The Patch

The Patch works sim­i­lar­ly to the Pill. It’s a 44 cm beige patch that you stick onto your skin like a ban­dage, but it sticks bet­ter than that. It can be worn while swim­ming, show­er­ing or play­ing sports. The Patch grad­u­al­ly releas­es the hor­mones estro­gen and prog­es­terone into your blood­stream. The Patch requires a pre­scrip­tion and can be picked up at a pharmacy.

How to use it

Once a week for three con­sec­u­tive weeks, place a new patch on clean, dry skin your but­tocks, stom­ach, back or upper arms, but don’t place it on your breasts. Dur­ing the fourth week, no patch is worn. The day of the week that you change your patch must be the same from week to week, but you can change the loca­tion if you want. Don’t go for more than sev­en days with­out wear­ing a patch if you want it to work.

How it works

The estro­gen and prog­es­terone stop your ovaries from releas­ing their eggs, thick­en your cer­vi­cal mucus so that sperm can’t enter, and thin your uter­ine lin­ing to pre­vent a fer­til­ized egg from implanting.


Over 99% effec­tive with prop­er use and 97% effec­tive with typ­i­cal use. Effec­tive­ness can be reduced if you for­get to change your patch, you lose it, or if you have to take cer­tain med­ica­tions such as antibi­otics or anti-seizure meds.


You only have to change it once a week, rather than remem­ber it dai­ly like the Pill. Your peri­od will be more reg­u­lar and you may have a lighter men­stru­al flow. It can reduce acne and dark body hair and pre­vent osteo­poro­sis (weak­en­ing of your bones). Like the Pill, the Patch is com­plete­ly reversible.


The Patch doesn’t pro­tect against HIV or STIs. Shouldn’t real­ly be used if you weigh over 88 kilo­grams (198 pounds) because it may not be effec­tive. Pos­si­ble side effects in the first few months are the same as with the Pill: spot­ting, ten­der breasts, headache and nau­sea, and skin irri­ta­tion from the adhe­sive. Due to seri­ous car­dio­vas­cu­lar side effects, you are high­ly advised not to smoke espe­cial­ly if you’re on the Patch. If you have cer­tain health dis­or­ders or a his­to­ry of blood clots, you may not be pre­scribed the Patch.

Cost and coverage

The Patch is cov­ered by most pri­vate health insur­ance plans, but you should know that if you use your parent’s drug plan, they may be able to see that infor­ma­tion. The Patch is also cov­ered by:

  • EIA/​social assistance
  • FNI­HB (First Nations sta­tus) – You can call 2049838886 to make sure no one else can see your prescriptions.
  • Man­i­to­ba Phar­ma­care – If you have a Man­i­to­ba Health card and have no oth­er cov­er­age, there’s a good chance you can apply for Phar­ma­care to cov­er a good por­tion of your drug costs. Click here for more information.

If you don’t have any cov­er­age, you may be able to get the Patch for free from your health care provider’s office or clin­ic, or you can call Women’s Health Clin­ic (2049471517) for infor­ma­tion on their free/low-cost birth con­trol pro­gram. Oth­er­wise, the cost to just pur­chase the Patch is gen­er­al­ly around $35 per box of 3 patch­es (you need a patch per month) in Winnipeg.*

* This infor­ma­tion is up-to-date as of 2019.