The birth control (contraceptive) transdermal patch was approved by the FDA in 2001 (Ortho Evra). The “patch” offers a different means of obtaining the hormones that are contained in birth control pills. Its main advantage lies in the fact that it can be placed on the skin and requires only a weekly patch change. Each patch is equivalent to a week of oral contraceptives—typically 3 patches are required per cycle. The patch allows for the release of approximately 20 microgram per day of ethinyl estradiol and 150 micrograms/day of norelgestromin or about the same as a low dose birth control pill.
The side effects of the patch are similar to that of oral birth control pills. Any weight gain associated with the patch is minimal. Most women experience a decrease in menstrual flow and associated cramps while using the contraceptive patch.
The contraceptive patch has been shown to be less effective in women who weigh more than 200 pounds. If you are approaching or have exceeded this weight you should consult your health care provider before relying on it.