Overview

The birth control patch for women is a type of contraception that contains the hormones estrogen and progestin. You place the small patch on your skin once a week for three weeks, 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 combination 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.

Ortho Evra, once marketed as a birth control patch, is no longer available in the U.S. The manufacturer discontinued Ortho Evra after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Xulane, a generic birth control patch, in 2014. The Evra patch is still available in Europe and Canada.

You'll need a prescription from your health care provider to use the birth control patch. The patch doesn't protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Dec. 23, 2015
References
  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.