View Printer Friendly PDF Printer Friendly PDF

Facts About...

Transdermal Patch

What is it?

The transdermal patch, also called “the patch”, is a form of birth control containing the hormones estrogen and progestin. These hormones are absorbed slowly through the skin. They stop the ovaries from releasing eggs, change the lining of the uterus to prevent implantation and thicken the vaginal mucous to prevent pregnancy. A patch is applied every week for 3 weeks, followed by 1 patch-free week; this is the week in which a woman can expect to have her period. The patch is placed on 1 of 4 sites; the buttocks, lower belly, upper outer arm, or upper body, but never right on the breast.

How effective is it?

The patch is between 91% and 99.7% effective for birth control, depending on correct and steady use.

What are the side effects of this method?

Headache, irregular bleeding, nausea and breast soreness are experienced by some women. Most side effects disappear with constant use. Local reactions where the patch is placed on the skin may occur. It is recommended that the site the patch is placed on be rotated each time. Women over the age of 35 who smoke or have high blood pressure are advised not to use this method as it increases the risk for stroke, heart attack, and blood clots.

What are the benefits?

The patch can regulate a woman’s period with less bleeding and cramping. It may reduce the risk of ovarian and endometrial cancer. Use of the patch does not require daily attention yet provides a reliable method of birth control when used correctly.

What are the limitations?

A woman must visit a health care provider to get a prescription for this method. For women who weigh 90 kg (198 lbs.) or more, the patch is less effective. The patch is not recommended for women with a history of blood clots, stroke or heart disease, or those with high blood pressure, severe migraines, breast cancer or liver tumour. If you are a smoker, using the patch will increase your risk of a serious blood clot, heart attack and stroke.

What are the effects on breastfeeding?

Estrogen may reduce breast milk supply. It is recommended that mothers use progestin only types of birth control. If you are currently breastfeeding and would like to discuss birth control options, please follow up with your health care provider.

What you should know...

The patch sticks well and you can continue to swim, shower and use hot tubs. The patch-free interval should never be more than 7 days. If a patch is applied late or a patch falls off, refer to the product instructions. The patch does not prevent the transmission of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS; therefore condoms should always be used during sexual activity.

Contact your health care provider immediately if you experience any of the following: sudden and severe chest pain/heaviness, sudden and severe abdominal pain, leg pain, and trouble breathing/shortness of breath, severe headaches or visual problems.


August 11, 2015