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1 March 2004
Contraceptive Patches More Reliable

Women who used the once-a-week birth control patch, ORTHO EVRA® (norelgestromin/ethinyl estradiol transdermal system), were more likely to use their medication as directed than women who took a birth control pill, according to a study published in the current issue of Contraception.

"It's not always easy, but it is very important for women using any birth control pill to take it at the same time every day to prevent unplanned pregnancy," said Vanessa Cullins, M.D. "What's exciting is that this study shows that the birth control patch is convenient and simple to use, and may be a better birth control option for women."

Oral birth control pills must be taken consistently and correctly to be effective, however an estimated 15 percent of oral birth control users say it is difficult to do so with the Pill. Inconsistent or incorrect use, i.e., missing one or more pills per cycle, can increase the risk of unplanned pregnancy and lead to abnormal bleeding, which is the leading cause of unscheduled physician visits. In the study, previously published Phase III data were analyzed to further explore compliance differences between contraceptive patches and an oral contraceptive.

These results showed that the percentage of cycles with "perfect dosing," a measure of correct dosing of a birth control method, was significantly higher with the patch (88.7 percent) than oral contraceptives (79.2 percent).

Investigators pooled these data with new findings, which showed:

  • Contraceptive patch users achieved perfect dosing in nearly 90 percent of total cycles. These rates were consistently high across all age groups.

  • Perfect dosing cycles were associated with significantly better contraceptive efficacy (p = .007) than imperfect dosing cycles, i.e., missing a dose and doubling up the next day.

    The contraceptive patch contains hormones similar to those in birth control pills. Women who use hormonal contraceptives are strongly advised not to smoke. Some women should not use the contraceptive patch, including women who have blood clots, certain cancers, a history of heart attack or stroke, as well as those who are or may be pregnant.


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