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Birth Control/Will I be protected?


I've been on the birth control patch for the past 3 weeks and then I did not put it on for a week in order to get my period. I put on a new patch today, after a week of having my period, and I was wondering, do I still instantly get protection from pregnancy? I ask this because I first started the patch the first day of my period so that I could receive instant protection, and I want to know if my partner needs to wear a condom now because I did not have the patch on for a week.
Thank you!

Dear Hazel,

Thank you for your message.

You say you have been on the birth control patch for the last month, with 3 weeks on and 1 week off to get your period. You started a new patch today and want to know if you get instant protection from pregnancy.

The short answer is yes, you are protected from pregnancy now.

When you start the patch for the first time ever , it is only instant if it's started on the first day of your period. However, after that first month, all months following it, and all days following it, you will always be protected, regardless of whether you have your period or not, so long as you use it as instructed .

That means that as long as you always have 3 weeks on and 1 week off (and never more than 7 days without it on) then it will work as prescribed and you will be protected from pregnancy.


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Allison Macbeth


I can answer questions about how to choose which method of contraception is right for you, how to deal with mistakes, effectiveness, and emergency contraception. I also have training in HIV, STIs, and sexual health education. I cannot tell you what is the right choice, but I can tell you the pros and cons of each method to help you make an informed decision for your circumstances. If you have had a condom break or had unprotected sex and need emergency contraception please call you local Planned Parenthood or check out


I have been working in the field of sexual health for a decade with specific training in contraception, STIs, HIV, and sexual problems. I have worked in several Planned Parenthood-affiliated charities, telephone helplines, research, education, and currently work for a local health authority evaluating HIV programs in the city.

Macbeth, A., Weerakoon, P., Sitharthan, G. (2009). Australian Parentsí Opinions about School-based Sexual Health Education. Sexual Health. 6, 328-333. I write a weekly advice column for Morning Quickie website which can be found here:

I have a Masters in Applied Science (Sexual Health) where I did research on sex education in schools and at home with parents and young people, as well as many counselling skills courses.

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I have worked extensively with young people under 25, people living with or affected by HIV, and parents.

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