Birth Control Patch vs Pill: Which One Is a Better Contraceptive?

Aarohi Batra
Medically reviewed by
Dr. Kaushal

Review medical content on WOW Rx Pharmacy, so that accurate drug use information is easily accessible to everybody.
Dr. Akansha is a licensed Clinical Pharmacologist. She possesses remarkable knowledge in Pharmacovigilance, prescription analysis, drug information, and drug safety services. Additionally, she is a keen learner and an educator.

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birth control patch vs pill

Birth control pills and patches are two different types of contraceptive methods that are effective in preventing pregnancy.

According to the United Nations 2019 report, around 966 million women use some method of contraceptive, and approximately 151 million rely on birth control pills.

However, when searching for a convenient and reliable contraceptive method from various options- you may want to know which one is better.

Both birth control patch and pill have their advantages and disadvantages that are necessary to understand.

As an example, where one has to remember to take their pills at the right time daily, the other one can use a transdermal patch and forget it for the next week, and lots more.

This comprehensive article will elaborate on such differences and provide an understanding of birth control patch vs pill.


The table below differentiates between birth control patches and pills depending on their distinct characteristics. 

AspectBirth control patchBirth control pill
Usage methodThe patch is stuck to the upper arm, lower abdomen, back, or buttocksOral route
DosageA patch is applied once a weekPills are taken at a gap of 24 hours
Efficacy (approximately)99% effective99.5% effective if taken correctly and regularly
Side effectsHeadache, nausea, vomiting, spotting in between periods, changes in sexual driveBleeding between periods, mood swings, nausea, vomiting, headache
Who can useSexually active people who do not smoke and without a medical history of high blood pressure and heart problemsPeople without a medical history of heart attack, high blood pressure
People who should not usePeople with high blood pressure, heart disease, and risk of blood clotsPeople with a medical history of Uterine cancer, heart attack, high blood pressure, blood clots 

Birth control patch vs pill and how they prevent pregnancy

UTIs in women are considered complicated if they are pregnantSource: tatyana_tomsickova from Getty Images
Pregnant woman

A birth control patch is a type of contraception that contains hormones, i.e., Estrogen and Progestin.

The birth control patch can prevent pregnancy in the following ways:

  • Prevents ovulation by releasing hormones into the bloodstream
  • Thickens cervical mucus, makes it harder for sperm to reach the egg

Birth control pills, also called combination oral pills, are hormonal birth control method used since 1960 to prevent pregnancy.

The pill contains hormones, Estrogen, and Progestin, responsible for maintaining the menstrual cycle in women.

The other form of contraceptive pill, i.e., minipill, contains Progestin only.

Birth control pills prevent pregnancy in the following ways:

  • Estrogen in birth control pills prevents ovaries from releasing an egg
  • Progestin thickens the cervical mucus to make it harder for sperm to reach egg
  • The results in the thinning of the uterine lining (endometrium) to prevent implantation

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Usage method

The birth control patch is directly applied to the skin and steadily releases hormones into the bloodstream.

The best place to apply or stick a birth control patch includes:

  • Lower abdomen
  • Back
  • Upper arm
  • Buttocks

On the other hand, birth control pills are taken orally. 

As per the doctor’s prescription, oral birth control pills are taken daily in a row and then should be replaced with a new pack.

Dosage and efficacy

The birth control patch is applied once a week and, therefore, is a more convenient contraceptive method than oral birth control pills.

Pills, on the other hand, are taken orally daily.

There are different packs of birth control pills explained in the following ways:

  • 21 days pack: This pack of birth control pills contains 21 tiny tablets that you take daily and then avoid any tablet for the fourth week
  • 28 days pack: This birth control pill’s pack has 28 pills, 21 contain hormones, and the last 7 are placebo pills without hormones
  • 91 days pack: The 91-day pack is pills for three months, followed by one week of placebo pills
Oral birth control pills are among women’s most used contraceptives. Approximately 25% of women between 15 and 44 years of age prefer pills as their birth control method of choice.


The birth control patch has the following pros:

  • It needs to be applied once a week, thus convenient to use
  • Do not interrupt sexual activity
  • People can get pregnant after discontinuing it
  • Prevent the risks of endometrial and ovarian cancer
  • It can help people with heavy periods and make the periods lighter

Some common pros of birth control pills include:

  • It reduces period cramps and make periods lighter and shorter
  • Reduces the risk of endometrial, ovarian, and colon cancer
  • Lowers risk of Ectopic pregnancy
  • It can prevent bone thinning, Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS), and Anemia
  • Reduce the cyst formation in ovaries and breasts


Menstrual painSource: Viktoriya_Kuzmenkova_from_Getty_Images
Closeup of a woman suffering from stomach pain

The common cons of birth control patches include:

  • It cannot prevent pregnancy if not applied correctly every week
  • It can result in skin irritation at the site of patch application
  • Menstrual cramps
  • No protection against Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)

Some common cons of birth control pills are as follows:

  • People must remember to take them daily at the same time
  • It can increase blood clots and heart problems
  • It does not protect against STDs
  • Bleeding in between periods

Side effects

Contraceptive methods do prevent pregnancy but can elevate the risk of some side effects in people.

Birth control patches and pills may show the following side effects in people:

  • Headaches
  • Breast tenderness
  • Bleeding between periods
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Weight gain
  • Mood swings

A patch can change the sex drive in people. It can also cause skin irritation.

Some higher risk factors associated with birth control patches and pills include:

  • Heart attack and stroke
  • Blood clots in legs, lungs, and brain
It is advised to consult your doctor before opting for any birth control method to avoid serious complications, such as blood clots and heart attacks.

Who should not use a birth control patch and a pill

For birth control pills and patches, the risk factors are higher for people who have:

  • A history of heart problems and blood clots
  • Crossed the age of 35 
  • High blood pressure, blood cholesterol level, or Diabetes
  • A habit of smoking
  • Have a history of Uterine cancer

People with these medical conditions or age factors must consult a healthcare practitioner before taking either birth control patches or pills. 


Birth control patches and pills are two contraceptive methods that help in preventing pregnancy with the help of Estrogen and Progestin.

The pills are taken daily through the oral route, whereas a patch is applied on the lower abdomen, back, buttocks, and upper arm.

Further, pills are available in different packs for 21 days, 28 days, and 91 days.

There are certain pros of patches and pills, such as reducing ovarian and endometrial cancer risks and making periods lighter.

However, they also have some cons, such as no protection against STDs and increased risk of blood clots and heart attacks.

Further, both these methods can cause some side effects in people, such as headache, nausea, vomiting, and mood swings.

Thus, it is necessary to consult a healthcare practitioner before using either pills or patches to prevent severe complications.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are birth control patches better than pills?

Birth control patches are as effective as oral birth control pills. A patch is 99% effective in preventing pregnancy, and pills are 99.5%. Both these contraceptive methods are effective if used correctly under a doctor’s prescription.

Is the patch as safe as the pill?

Yes, the patch is a safe and effective birth control method as the pill. Patch and pills contain two hormones, Estrogen and Progesterone. These hormones help prevent ovulation and thick cervical mucus to prevent pregnancy. However, you should consult a healthcare practitioner before using these contraceptive methods.

Are a hormone patch and a pill safe to use?

Yes, patches and pills are safe to use. Patch and pills contain Estrogen and Progesterone. These hormones prevent ovulation and make cervical mucus thick to prevent pregnancy. However, you should consult a healthcare practitioner before using these contraceptive methods.

What are the side effects of a birth control patch and a pill?

Birth control patches and pills can cause side effects in people, such as vomiting, nausea, headache, and mood swings. The patch can also cause skin irritation. Patch can also change sexual drive and cause mood swings.

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