Categories: Family Planning

The birth control patch is a type of contraception that contains the hormones estrogen and progestin. Once a week for three weeks, you place a small patch on your skin, so that you wear a patch for a total of 21 days. During the fourth week, you don’t wear a patch — which allows menstrual bleeding to occur.

The birth control patch works similarly to a combination of birth control pills. The birth control patch prevents pregnancy by releasing hormones into your bloodstream that keep your ovaries from releasing an egg (ovulation). The birth control patch also thickens cervical mucus to keep sperm from reaching an egg

The birth control patch has some advantages over other types of birth control:

  • It eliminates the need to interrupt sex for contraception.
  • You don’t need your partner’s cooperation to use it.
  • It doesn’t require daily attention or having to remember to take a pill every day.
  • It provides a steady dose of hormones.
  • It’s easier to use if you have trouble swallowing pills.
  • It can be removed at any time, allowing for a quick return to fertility.

The birth control patch isn’t appropriate for everyone, however. Your health care provider may advise against the patch if you:

  • Are age 35 or older and smoke
  • Have chest pain or a history of heart attack, stroke, or severe high blood pressure
  • Have a history of blood clots
  • Have a history of breast, uterine, or liver cancer
  • Weigh more than 198 pounds (90 kilograms)
  • Have liver disease or migraines with aura
  • Have diabetes-related complications of the kidneys, eyes, nerves, or blood vessels