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What Are the Side Effects of the Birth Control Patch?

The birth control patch is a form of contraception worn on the surface of the skin. Though side effects are usually mild and may decline over time, they can include:

  • Spotting or breakthrough bleeding. This can happen when the patch is first started but resolves in a few weeks.
  • Breast and nipple soreness can occur, but the pain is mild and temporary.
  • Menstrual cramps.
  • Weight gain and fluid retention. This can usually be managed by being physically active and eating a healthy diet.
  • Mood alterations, which can range from anxiety to depression.
  • Headaches.
  • Fatigue.
  • There is a small risk that the use of the birth control patch may increase the risk of blood clots. These may occur in the legs and sometimes travel to the lungs. That is why women with a risk of stroke or heart disease are usually not prescribed the patch. The risk of clot formation can be reduced through the use of compression stockings, especially when traveling long distances.
  • Some women may develop high blood pressure, though this side effect is rare. It also reverses when the patch is discontinued.

The birth control patch is highly effective in preventing pregnancy and most women experience only mild side effects, which subside within a few weeks. If the side effects persist, one may need to change the method of birth control.

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