Birth control patch

The patch (Ortho Evra) is a square skin patch worn on your lower abdomen, buttocks or upper body, but not on your breasts. The patch releases a continuous dose of estrogen and progestin hormones into your bloodstream to prevent pregnancy.

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How it's used

You wear patches continuously for three weeks, applying a new patch each week and discarding the used one. On the fourth week, you forego the patch so that you can have your period.

Effectiveness

The birth control patch is 99 percent effective, meaning one out of 100 women who use this method as birth control for a year will become pregnant. It's less effective if you weigh more than 198 pounds.

Issues to consider

The patch is convenient, and many women find it easier to keep up with this regimen than a pill regimen. Side effects and risks of the patch are similar to those of birth control pills. It carries an increased risk of blood clots, heart attack and stroke. Like other forms of hormonal birth control, the patch isn't recommended for smokers over age 35 or for women who have liver disease, uncontrolled diabetes, or a history of blood clots, heart attack or stroke. Talk to your health care provider about when to start using it.

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