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Who Can Use the Birth Control Patch?

The birth control patch can be used by women who do not have high blood pressure, a history of blood clots, or other health concerns that prevent them from taking hormonal birth control containing estrogen. Some women should not use the patch since the higher estrogen levels put them at an increased risk for serious side effects.

Birth Control With Estrogen

Like most methods of birth control, the patch uses hormones to prevent pregnancy. Both estrogen and progestin are delivered through the skin to help prevent your ovaries from releasing eggs.

When using the birth control patch, you are exposed to higher levels of estrogen than you would be with most birth control pills. This may create an increased risk for:

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  • Blood clots in the lungs or legs.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Heart attack.
  • Stroke.

If you’re a smoker, the risk for these serious side effects is even higher. If you smoke cigarettes or have a history of any of the health conditions listed above, your doctor may recommend that you use another type of birth control.

Women who should not use contraceptives containing estrogen can choose a progestin-only birth control option like the mini-pill, shot, or implant. Other options include non-hormonal contraceptives like the copper IUD or condoms.

Potential Medication Interactions

The following medications may make the birth control patch less effective at preventing pregnancy:

  • Rifampin, an antibiotic taken to treat tuberculosis.
  • Some anti-seizure medications.
  • Some supplements, such as St. John’s Wort.

If you take one of these medications or supplements, you should not use the birth control patch.

Skin Sensitivity

There’s a very small risk that you could have an allergic reaction to the patch where it’s applied to your skin, so it may not be a good fit for women with certain allergies or particularly sensitive skin. If you experience severe redness, itching, rashes, hives, swelling, or difficulty breathing at any point while wearing the patch, seek medical attention right away.

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