Why it's done

The birth control patch is used to prevent pregnancy. 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 for women who 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
  • Have unexplained vaginal bleeding
  • Developed yellowing of the whites of the eyes or of the skin (jaundice) during pregnancy or when previously taking hormonal contraceptives
  • Are about to have major surgery and will be unable to move around as usual
  • Are taking any medications or herbal supplements
  • Are sensitive to any part of the birth control patch

In addition, tell your health care provider if you:

  • Are breast-feeding or recently gave birth, had a miscarriage or an abortion
  • Have concerns about a new breast lump or change in your breast self-exam
  • Take epilepsy medications
  • Have diabetes, or gallbladder, liver, heart or kidney disease
  • Have high cholesterol or triglycerides
  • Have irregular periods
  • Have depression
  • Have skin conditions, such as psoriasis or eczema
Dec. 23, 2015
  1. Birth control methods fact sheet. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/birth-control-methods.html. Accessed Nov. 10, 2015.
  2. Xulane (prescribing information). Morgantown, W.Va.: Mylan Pharmaceuticals Inc.; 2014. http://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/drugInfo.cfm?setid=f7848550-086a-43d8-8ae5-047f4b9e4382. Accessed Nov. 30, 2015.
  3. Zieman M. Overview of contraception. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Nov. 10, 2015.
  4. Hatcher RA, et al. Contraceptive patch and vaginal contraceptive ring. In: Contraceptive Technology. 20th ed. New York, N.Y.: Ardent Media; 2011.
  5. Burkman RT. Transdermal contraceptive patch. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Nov. 10, 2015.
  6. Nelson AL. Transdermal contraception methods: Today's patches and new options on the horizon. Expert Opinion on Pharmacotherapy. 2015:16:863.
  7. Orange Book: Approved Drug Products with Therapeutic Equivalence Evaluations, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cder/ob/docs/obdetail.cfm?Appl_No=200910&TABLE1=OB_Rx. Accessed Nov. 10, 2015.