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Specific Precautions and Warnings With the Birth Control PatchSome of the warnings and precautions to be aware of prior to using the birth control patch include the following:
- Because the birth control patches are worn 24 hours a day, it is possible that women may be exposed to more hormones, compared to birth control pills. It is possible that this could increase the risk of certain side effects.
- Smoking cigarettes greatly increases the risk of serious birth control patch side effects (such as heart attacks, strokes, and blood clots). This risk is particularly high for smokers over the age of 35. Combined oral contraceptives (which are very similar to the birth control patch) increase the risk of blood clots, strokes, and heart attacks. It is assumed that the birth control patch also has these risks. These risks are minimal for healthy, young nonsmokers. Make sure to tell your healthcare provider if you have ever had a blood clot, stroke, heart attack, or chest pain.
Some studies have suggested that women taking the birth control patch may have a higher risk of blood clots, compared to women taking birth control pills.
- The birth control patch is less effective in women who weigh 198 pounds or more. If you weigh 198 pounds or more, you may want to consider a different form of birth control.
- Combined oral contraceptives may also slightly increase the risk of breast cancer or cervical cancer. It is assumed that the birth control patch also has these risks.
- Oral contraceptives increase the risk of benign (non-cancerous) liver tumors. Very rarely, these tumors can rupture and cause serious problems. It is assumed that the birth control patch also shares this risk. If you have liver disease, the birth control patch may not be the best choice for you.
- Let your healthcare provider know if you have any sudden vision changes, as this may be a sign of a blood clot in the eyes (a possible side effect of the birth control patch and other hormonal contraceptives).
- Hormonal contraceptives (such as the birth control patch) can make gallbladder disease worse. If you have had a problem with your gallbladder, the birth control patch may not be the best contraceptive for you.
- The birth control patch may increase blood sugar levels, particularly in women with diabetes. Your healthcare provider may need to monitor you more closely.
- Hormonal contraceptives (including the birth control patch) can increase your blood pressure. This can be a problem if you already have high blood pressure.
- The birth control patch can change your menstrual bleeding patterns. Some women have breakthrough bleeding (bleeding between periods), while others may not have a period at all. It is normal to have shorter and lighter periods while using the birth control patch. If you notice any unusual changes in your bleeding patterns, let your healthcare provider know. If you miss a period, you should make sure you are not pregnant.
- The birth control patch can affect your cholesterol. Your healthcare provider may need to check your cholesterol levels after you start the birth control patch, especially if you already have high cholesterol.
- There have been a few, very rare cases of toxic shock syndrome in women who use the birth control patch. It is not clear whether these cases were due to the birth control patch, tampon usage, or other causes.
- Sometimes, hormonal contraceptives can make depression worse. Let your healthcare provider know if you develop new or worsening depression symptoms.
- Occasionally, the birth control patch (as well as any other hormonal contraceptive) can cause eye changes that make it more difficult to wear contact lenses.
- The birth control patch can interact with a number of different medications (see Drug Interactions With the Birth Control Patch for more information).
- The birth control patch is considered a pregnancy Category X medication. This means that you should not use the birth control patch during pregnancy (see Ortho Evra and Pregnancy).
- Contraceptive hormones (such as the ones in the birth control patch) do pass through breast milk. Therefore, if you are breastfeeding or plan to start breastfeeding, discuss this with your healthcare provider prior to taking the drug (see Ortho Evra and Breastfeeding). Combined hormonal contraceptives (such as the birth control patch) are not usually recommended for breastfeeding women.