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Transdermal contraceptive patch

Ronald T Burkman, MD
Section Editor
Courtney A Schreiber, MD, MPH
Deputy Editor
Kristen Eckler, MD, FACOG


The benefits, risks, and contraindications of the transdermal contraceptive patch are generally similar to those of combined hormonal oral contraceptives. Both methods offer highly effective, reversible, noncoital-based contraception, but are subject to adverse estrogen-related side effects. However, transdermal hormonal contraceptive systems offer several potential advantages to oral contraceptive pills:

Therapeutic effects are achieved at lower peak doses since first-pass hepatic metabolism and enzymatic degradation in the gastrointestinal tract are avoided.

Plasma hormone levels remain constant (peaks and troughs do not occur).

Sustained drug delivery reduces the need for frequent self-administration, and thus may improve patient compliance.

The nonoral route of administration is useful for patients who have difficulty swallowing pills.

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Nov 13, 2017.
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