ZocdocAnswersHow do the patch and birth control pills differ?

Question

How do the patch and birth control pills differ?

I want to use a better birth control method than condoms, but I'm not sure which direction to go in. It seems like the patch and the pill offer the same benefits. Is there any real difference in effectiveness, side effects, or long term safety? What about for older women versus younger women?

Answer

Deciding the right birth control method for you is a conversation you should have with your primary care physician or OBGYN, whoever you are more comfortable with. There are many advantages and disadvantages to each that you will need to consider. There are other methods such as the depot shot, and the vaginal ring you can consider as well. The pill and patch prevent pregnancy with the same method. They both prevent ovulation by using a mixture of progesterone and estrogen analogs. The advantages of the patch is that you don't have to remember to take it every day. You just change it once a week. This avoids the occasional missed pill which can result in an unwanted pregnancy. The disadvantage of the patch is that there are slightly higher rate of side effects. Probably the most important of these side effects is blood clots. Both the pill and the patch carry a slightly higher risk of developing blood clots, but the patch is a little more. Since these two options are not the only available hormonal birth control methods, you really should do some more investigating. There are many other great options out there for you. Good luck.

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