Xulane is a brand-name prescription birth control patch that’s applied once per week for 3 weeks each month. Each day, the patch releases 150 micrograms (mcg) of progestin and 35 mcg of ethinyl estradiol, a type of estrogen.
Like other forms of birth control, the patch is a highly effective form of hormonal contraception. But unlike oral contraception, where you take pills every day, Xulane works by delivering hormones through the skin via a bandage-like patch.
Hormonal contraception, including birth control patches, has evolved so much so that serious side effects are relatively rare.
However, there’s still a risk for side effects while taking Xulane. Your chances of experiencing more serious ones depend on certain underlying risk factors. Some effects may be temporary, while others might be more long-term.
Make sure you understand all of the potential side effects associated with Xulane, and talk with your doctor to determine whether this form of birth control is best for you.
All types of hormonal birth control carry a risk of side effects. These are primarily related to estrogen.
At 35 mcg per day, Xulane contains about 60 percent more estrogen than the average oral contraceptive. Thus, you may be at an increased risk for estrogen-related side effects.
Some of the most common side effects of the Xulane birth control patch include:
- spotting or bleeding between periods (also called breakthrough bleeding)
- painful menstruation
- skin irritation, rashes, and redness at the application site
- abdominal pain
- breast pain or swelling
- changes in mood, such as depression or anxiety
Most of these side effects are temporary and usually go away within 3 months after your body gets used to the hormones in Xulane. You should call your doctor if the symptoms last longer than this or if they’re severe.
It’s also possible to experience little to no side effects while using the birth control patch.
Seek emergency medical help if you experience symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including:
- breathing difficulties
- swelling in your face, tongue, lips, and throat
- dizziness or loss of consciousness
Xulane may increase your risk for serious but rare side effects. These include:
- blood clots, especially in the legs and lungs
- heart attack
- loss of eyesight
Your risk for rare or deadly side effects is greater if you take the patch while smoking and are over the age of 35. Obesity may also increase these risks.
There are also possible long-term side effects of Xulane to consider, such as:
- high blood pressure (hypertension)
- gallbladder disease
- leg pain
- vision changes
- onset of severe headaches
Hormonal birth control, including the patch, can increase your risk for:
- blood clots
- heart attack
Xulane may increase such risks even more due to its higher estrogen content. You shouldn’t use Xulane if you have a history or a risk for these conditions.
What increases your risks?
Your risk for serious side effects may also be greater if you have:
- high cholesterol
Being overweight and smoking may increase these risks, especially if you’re over 35.
The makers of Xulane don’t recommend their product for women who have a body mass index (BMI) of over 30. Using this patch may increase the risk for blood clots in such cases.
Also, this patch may not be effective in women who weigh 198 pounds or more. They may need to consider another method of birth control.
Don’t take Xulane if you have any of these health conditions
Xulane isn’t recommended if you have any of the following health conditions:
- blood clots
- heart disease
- vascular disease
- breast or cervical cancer
- unexplained vaginal bleeding
- severe migraines with aura
- liver disease
- liver tumors
- eczema, psoriasis, or sensitive skin
If you’re having surgery, stop taking Xulane 4 weeks beforehand. This will help decrease the risk of blood clots. You may need to wait at least 2 weeks after surgery to start taking your patch again.
You shouldn’t take Xulane if you currently use certain hepatitis C medications that contain:
These medications can increase certain liver enzymes in your blood that indicate liver damage.
Ask your doctor about Xulane if you take thyroid hormone replacement medications or antiseizure drugs. These may interfere with the hormones in the patch, making them less effective overall.
Certain herbs may also interact with the birth control patch, such as St. John’s wort. Talk to your doctor about all herbal supplements you’re currently taking before using Xulane.
All forms of birth control carry the risk of side effects, but the estrogen content in Xulane may increase such concerns if you already have certain risk factors. A doctor can help you determine which is the safest and most effective form of birth control for you.
You should also talk with a doctor before taking Xulane if you’re nursing. It’s possible for the patch to decrease milk production. Small amounts of Xulane may also be present in breast milk, which may be passed on to your baby.
If you’re interested in taking Xulane after delivering a baby, you must wait at least 4 weeks and must not be breastfeeding.
Xulane is a progestin- and estrogen-containing birth control patch you wear every day for 3 weeks. You change out the patch for a new one each week.
Like other birth control methods, Xulane carries a risk of side effects. Most are mild and temporary, but you should be aware of the more serious risks and call your doctor right away if you experience any unusual symptoms.
Don’t stop taking Xulane without talking with a doctor first.