Facts About the Birth Control Patch


The birth control patch, otherwise known by its market name, Ortho Evra, is a little, thin plastic patch that you stick to your skin. A new patch is required every week for three weeks, then for one week no patch is worn. The patch delivers estrogen and progestin—the same hormones found in the birth control pill—to the body transdermally.

In these respects it is no different than any other hormone-based birth control method: it works in two ways:

  • It prevents the ovaries from releasing eggs
  • It prevents sperm from reaching any eggs by thickening the cervical mucus


The birth control patch is effective when used as directed. It is important to put on a new patch at the same time each week in order to maintain hormone levels. When used as directed, the patch is over 99 percent effective. Another way to put it can be found at the Planned Parenthood website, which says that "less than 1 out of 100 women will get pregnant each year if they always use Ortho Evra as directed."

Since weight can have an effect on the patch's efficacy, as well as some other medications, women should always discuss these issues with a trusted health care professional.

Advantages and Disadvantages of the Patch

It has been reported that the patch confers periods that are lighter and shorter for many women (although one shouldn't necessarily expect this) and, like the pill, the patch can offer some protection for women against some health issues include anemia, cramps, bone thinning, ectopic pregnancy, some cancers, and heavy or irregular periods.

Like the pill, the patch can improve a woman's sex life by giving them the spontaneity that some forms of birth control do not. However, the patch offers no protection whatsoever from sexually transmitted infections or diseases

Furthermore, some women experience nausea and vomiting from the patch (this is rare), spotting between periods, or tenderness of the breasts. Generally speaking however, the vast majority of women don't have any problems with the patch.

Obtaining the Patch

Ortho Evra is available by prescription. Estimates vary widely about how much it can cost, with the range being anywhere between $15 to $80 per months' supply.

The patch is the right method of birth control for some women, but it may not be for others. Before beginning any birth control method, women should discuss all their options with their health care professional.


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