Birth Control Patch vs Pill: Which One Should You Choose?

Birth Control Patch

The patch

As its name suggests, the birth control patch is a small bandage that you can place on your skin. Once attached, the patch will release the hormones estrogen and progestin into your body. These hormones work in tandem to prevent pregnancy in three key ways:

  • Stopping your ovaries from releasing eggs
  • Thickening cervical mucus
  • Thinning the uterine lining

This ensures that there is no chance of an egg being released, and in the very rare chance that it does, there are two additional layers of protection: thicker cervical mucus prevents sperm from reaching the egg, and if that fails, a thinner uterine lining will prevent any fertilized egg from attaching.

To use the birth control patch, make sure to place it on a clean, dry spot on your body where it can lie smooth and flat, and will not rub against your clothes. Some good places to put your patch are your upper outer arm, back, and buttocks. 

You should replace your patch every 7 days. After 21 consecutive days of using the patch, you can leave it off for a week for your withdrawal bleed. Used correctly, the patch is up to 99% effective at preventing pregnancy.

The pill

Birth control pills are also a type of hormonal birth control. There are two types of birth control pills––combination and progestin-only. Combination pills contain the hormones estrogen and progestin, while the latter only contain progestin. They are each up to 99% effective at preventing pregnancy.

Combination pills will often contain inactive (placebo) pills or have a pill-free week for you to get your withdrawal bleed. Progestin-only pills do not contain inactive pills, and you should take your pill every day and start a new pack as soon as you finish your current one.

Birth control pills work in the same way as the patch: they stop ovulation, thicken cervical mucus, and make the uterine lining thinner. In order to maximize its efficiency, you should aim to take your pill at the same time every day. 

Both birth control pills and patches are very effective for preventing pregnancy, but they will not protect you against STDs. So, even if you are on the pill or patch, you should still get tested regularly and use barrier methods (such as condoms) during sex to prevent STD transmission.

Which one is right for you?

Both the patch and the pill have a range of benefits, but one may suit your lifestyle better than the other. When choosing between the patch and the pill, take into consideration that the pill has to be taken once a day, at the same time, to maximize its effectiveness. Before getting the pill, you should consider if this daily upkeep suits your lifestyle. Meanwhile, the patch requires less frequent maintenance: as long as you wear it properly, it only needs replacing every 7 days. 

If you have previously used birth control pills and experienced breakthrough bleeds––spotting that occurs outside your withdrawal bleed––the patch may be a better option for you. Because it delivers a steady dose of hormones throughout the week, you may experience less spotting than on the pill.

In general, though, both the patch and the pill can offer benefits beyond pregnancy prevention. For instance, they can help prevent or lessen acne, bone thinning, and anemia. Most importantly, though, birth control pills can benefit your menstrual health. If you have irregular menstrual cycles, birth control can help regulate them. Whichever type of pill or patch you choose, your monthly cycle will be more regular, and your period, called a withdrawal bleed, will be more predictable. 

Conclusion

Our bodies all react uniquely to different birth control options, so keep this in mind as you choose between these options. If you have any questions or concerns along the way, make sure to reach out to your healthcare provider––you can book a teleconsultation with one of our physicians at any time to discuss both contraceptive methods and get a professional opinion on which one might suit you best. The best part of using Ease for your contraceptive needs is that we’ll send your medication right to your doorstep within 4hrs, provide you with smooth refills every time you’re running out and provide you with access to our mobile app so that you can track your contraceptive use! Get the pill here, the patch here or book a birth control teleconsultation if you’re unsure.

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