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Birth Control Hormonal Methods (cont.)

91-day birth control pills

The FDA has approved several birth control pills that you take for 12 weeks of hormonally active pills (84 days) followed by one week (seven days) of an inactive pill. A menstrual period occurs during that week, so that a period occurs only once every three months. These extended-cycle pills contain the same hormones which are found in the 28 day cycle pills.

Although users of these products have fewer scheduled menstrual cycles, the data from clinical trials has shown that many women, especially in the first few cycles of use, had more unplanned bleeding and spotting between the expected menstrual periods than women taking a conventional 28-day cycle birth control pill.

These pills are effective for prevention of pregnancy when used as directed.

  • The risks of using these products are similar to the risks of other birth control pills and include an increased risk of blood clots, heart attack, and stroke.
  • The labeling also carries the warning that cigarette smoking increases the risk of serious heart-related side effects from the use of combination estrogen-and progestin-containing contraceptives, particularly in users over the age of 35.
  • Because users can expect to have fewer periods, the label also advises women to consider the possibility of pregnancy if they miss any anticipated periods.

Progestin-only birth control pills

Progestin-only pills, also known as mini-pills, are not widely used in the United States. Fewer than 1% of oral contraceptive users employ them as their sole method of birth control. Their primary utility is found in women who are breastfeeding or who cannot take estrogen for medical reasons.

Birth control patch

Patient Comments

A transdermal contraceptive patch (worn on the skin) that releases estrogen and progesterone directly through the skin (Ortho Evra) is approved for usage in the United States. Each patch contains a one-week supply of hormones. It releases a low daily dose equivalent to the lowest-dose oral contraceptive. The birth control patch is easy for women to use because it works for a week, and women do not have to remember a pill every day. A new patch is applied every week for three weeks, and a patch is not worn during the fourth week, during which a menstrual period occurs. It is available by prescription.

What are the side effects of the birth control patch?

Side effects for the birth control patch are similar to those experienced by women using oral contraceptives. However, the patch may cause skin irritation at the site of application (near the bikini line, on the buttocks, or the lower abdomen). Occasionally they patch may become dislodged, for example, in the shower, and its absence may not be noticed. In August 2002, the FDA listed a failure rate for the patch of one pregnancy per 100 women per year, similar to that of other combination hormonal methods. It may be less effective for women who weigh more than 198 pounds. The patch does not protect against STDs.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/29/2016
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Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Hormonal Methods of Birth Control :

Birth Control Hormomal Methods - Experience

What kind of hormonal birth control method have you or your partner used? Was it effective?

Hormonal Methods of Birth Control - Patch

Please share your experience with the birth control patch. Have you had any side effects? Is the patch comfortable to wear?

Hormonal Methods of Birth Control - Injections

Please share your experience with using injections to prevent pregnancy.


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