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Common Reactions to the Birth Control Patch

Common Side Effects

In clinical studies for most medications, one group of people receives the actual medication, while another group is given a placebo (a "sugar pill" that does not contain any active ingredients). The side effects in both groups are carefully documented and compared. As a result, it is possible to see what side effects occur, how often they appear, and how they compare to the group not taking the medicine.
However, it is not possible to use a placebo in clinical trials for contraceptives, as this would lead to many unintentional pregnancies. Therefore, some of the "side effects" of the birth control patch may not really be true side effects, but there is no way of knowing, because the studies did not use a placebo.
In these studies, the most common birth control patch side effects (occurring in 9 to 22 percent of women) included:
  • Breast symptoms (such as breast tenderness or swelling)
  • Headaches
  • Skin reactions at the site where the patch was applied
  • Nausea
  • Upper respiratory tract infections (such as the common cold)
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Abdominal pain (stomach pain).

Final Thoughts

It is possible that you may experience some or none of the side effects listed in this article. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to tell whether any particular side effect (such as nausea) is caused by the birth control patch or other factors.
Therefore, make sure to let your healthcare provider know if you develop any side effects while taking the birth control patch, or if something "just does not seem right." While it may not be a side effect of the birth control patch, your healthcare provider will be able to diagnose and treat the problem.
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