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How Effective Is the Birth Control Patch?

Reviewed on 11/30/2018

Ask a Doctor

I’m about to switch from hormonal birth control pills to the patch because I keep missing doses. Is the patch less effective than pills? How effective is the birth control patch?

Doctor’s Response

The birth control patch is a transdermal contraceptive patch that releases hormones through the skin to prevent pregnancy. A new patch is applied to the skin of the upper arm, belly, buttocks, or back once a week for 3 weeks, then one week off.

When used perfectly, the birth control patch can be 99% effective in preventing pregnancy, but most people do not use the patch perfectly so the overall effectiveness rate is 91%.

Birth control pills and the vaginal ring are equally as effective as birth control patches, preventing pregnancy 91% of the time.

Sterilization (tubal ligation for women or vasectomy for men), intrauterine devices (IUDs), and birth control implants are about 99% effective in preventing pregnancy. The birth control shot is about 94% effective.

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Reviewed on 11/30/2018
References
Planned Parenthood. Birth Control. 2018. 10 November 2018 .

—. Birth Control Patch. 2018. 10 November 2018 .
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