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The patch is safe for most people, but all medicines have some side effects and risks. Your doctor will help you figure out if the patch is safe for you.

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Is the birth control patch safe?

Chances are the patch will be totally safe for you — most people can use it with no problems. The hormones in the patch are the same ones in most birth control pills, which have been used to safely prevent pregnancy for more than 50 years.

Can I use the birth control patch?

Like any medication, the patch isn’t right for everyone.

If you’re over 35 and a smoker, you shouldn’t use the patch, or any other kind of birth control that contains the hormone estrogen.

Also avoid using the patch if you’ve had any of these health problems:

  • migraine headaches with aura (seeing flashing, zigzag lines)

  • breast cancer

  • heart attack, stroke, angina, or other serious heart problems

  • very bad diabetes or liver disease

  • uncontrolled high blood pressure

  • blood clots, an inherited blood-clotting disorder, or vein inflammation

Talk with your doctor or nurse about your risks and health problems.  They’ll help you to decide if the patch is right for you.

What are the risks of the birth control patch?

Even though the patch is very safe, using a form of birth control that has hormones can slightly increase your risk of certain health problems. These complications aren’t common, but they can be serious. They include heart attack, stroke, blood clots, and liver tumors. In very rare cases, they can lead to death.

When you talk with your nurse or doctor about birth control, tell them about any medications you’re taking and any health problems you’ve had.

There’s a very small chance that you can get pregnant even if you always use the patch correctly. But accidentally wearing a patch early in pregnancy won’t increase the risk of birth defects.

It’s important to remember that for most people, the chance of having any of these problems while using the patch is really, really low. In fact, pregnancy is more likely to cause serious health problems than the patch. Your nurse or doctor can help you figure out which birth control method will be safest for you.

What warning signs should I know about?

Most people on the patch won’t have any problems at all. But just in case, it’s good to know what the signs of a serious issue with the patch are.

See a doctor or nurse right away if you have:

  • sudden back/jaw pain along with nausea, sweating, or trouble breathing

  • chest pain or discomfort

  • achy soreness in your leg

  • trouble breathing

  • severe pain in your belly or stomach

  • sudden, very bad headache

  • headaches that are different, worse, or happen more often than usual

  • aura — (seeing flashing, zigzag lines)

  • yellowing of your skin or eyes

You can always call a nurse, doctor, or your local Planned Parenthood health center if you have any questions or worries.

Is it safe to use the patch while breastfeeding?

The combination of estrogen and progestin in the patch may reduce the amount and quality of your breast milk in the first 6 weeks of breastfeeding. If you’re nursing, wait at least 6 weeks after giving birth to start using the patch.

Your breast milk will contain traces of the patch's hormones, but it’s unlikely that these hormones will have any effect on your baby. Talk with your nurse or doctor about any concerns you may have about breastfeeding and birth control.

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The Patch

  • 91% effective

  • Costs up to $80, but can be $0

  • Prescription required

  • Change it once a week

The patch doesn’t protect you from STDs. Use a condom with your patch to help stop pregnancy and STDs.
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