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What should I know before using the birth control patch?

Before using the birth control patch you should know that using the birth control patch is easy. Just stick a new patch to clean, dry skin on your belly, upper outer arm, buttocks (butt cheeks) or back, but not your breast. Wear the patch for one week (seven days), then take off the patch and put on a new one. Change your patch once a week for three weeks straight.

Dr. Darria Long Gillespie, MD
Emergency Medicine Specialist

The following is useful information to know before using the birth control patch:

  • If you have abnormal vaginal bleeding, you should not use the patch.
  • The patch may be less effective at preventing pregnancy in heavier women.
  • You should not use the patch if you are breastfeeding.
  • You should not use the patch within 4 weeks of childbirth.
  • If you have asthma, epilepsy, a depressive disorder, high cholesterol or high triglycerides, the patch may not be a good option for you.
  • If you have breast cancer, endometrial cancer, coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, migraines, diabetes, impaired liver function, a liver tumor, you should not use the patch. 
  • If you have had a blood clot or hypercoagulation (increased blood clotting) disorder, you should not use the patch.
  • If you have had cholestatic jaundice during pregnancy, you should not use the patch.
  • If you have had a stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA), you should not use the patch.
  • If you have had gallbladder problems when using birth control pills, you should not use the patch.
  • If you have had heart valve disease with complications such as pulmonary hypertension, atrial fibrillation, or bacterial endocarditis, you should not use the patch.
  • If you have double vision or any eye problem caused by blood vessel disease of the eye, you should not use the patch.
  • You should not use the patch within 4 weeks of having a pregnancy termination.
  • If you are pregnant or suspect you are pregnant, you should not use the patch.
  • Cigarette smoking increases the risk of heart disease and stroke in women who use the patch. The risk increases with age and amount of smoking. Women older than 35 who smoke should not use the patch.
  • If you use birth control containing a progestin and estrogen, you should avoid caffeine.

This answer was adapted from Sharecare's award-winning AskMD app. Start a consultation now to find out what's causing your symptoms, learn how to manage a condition or find a doctor. 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.