Because the birth control patch works like the pill, it probably carries the same possible disadvantages.
Possible Side Effects of the Birth Control Patch
Some women may have undesirable side effects while using Ortho Evra. But many women adjust to it with few or no problems.
Some of the most common side effects usually clear up after two or three months. They include
- bleeding between periods
- breast tenderness
- nausea and vomiting
Ortho Evra may also cause more long-lasting side effects. The hormones in the patch may change a woman’s sexual desire. A woman may also have a reaction or irritation where she puts the patch on her skin.
It’s important that you find a method that won’t make you feel sick or uncomfortable. If you continue to experience side effects after using the birth control patch for three months, talk with your health care provider.
After a woman stops using the patch, it usually takes one or two months for her periods to return to the cycle she had before using it. Once in a while, a woman may have irregular or absent periods. This may go on for as long as six months after stopping. This is more likely if her periods were irregular before using the patch.
Serious Side Effects of the Birth Control Patch
Many women have concerns about the possible risks of taking hormones in birth control. Serious problems do not occur often.
Women who use birth control with estrogen — like Ortho Evra — have a slightly greater chance of certain rare, but serious, problems than nonusers. The most serious — in very rare cases — may be fatal. These include heart attack, stroke, having a blood clot in the legs, lungs, heart, or brain. Studies have found that women using the patch may have a higher risk of getting blood clots than women taking most kinds of birth control pills. But a woman’s overall risk of any major problem while using the patch is low.
Other rare risks include developing high blood pressure, liver tumors, gallstones, or yellowing of the skin or eyes (jaundice).
The risk for these problems increases if you
- are age 35 or older
- are very overweight
- have certain inherited blood-clotting disorders
- have diabetes
- have high blood pressure
- have high cholesterol
- need prolonged bed rest
Serious problems usually have warning signs. Report any of these signs to your health care provider as soon as possible:
- a new lump in your breast
- a sudden very bad headache
- achy soreness in the leg
- aura — seeing bright, flashing zigzag lines, usually before a very bad headache
- bad pain in your abdomen or chest
- headaches that are different, worse, or happen more often than usual
- no period after having a period every month
- trouble breathing
- yellowing of the skin or eyes
See the insert from your Ortho Evra package for more information about possible side effects.
The Birth Control Patch and Breast Cancer
You may have heard claims linking the hormones in the patch to breast cancer. The most recent literature suggests that the use of these hormones in birth control has little, if any, effect on the risk of developing breast cancer.