Oestrogen patches are available for two different purposes. One is prescribed as a method of birth control while the other is a form of hormone replacement therapy (HRT). In the United States, there is only one brand of birth control patch on the market, but several HRT patches are available. The primary difference between the two types is that HRT patches only deliver oestrogen while the birth control patch has both oestrogen and progestin.
Ortho Evra looks like a thin beige bandage. However, it delivers 6 mg of norelgestromin and .75 mg of ethinyl estradiol. This is approximately 60 per cent more oestrogen than a birth control pill, which the manufacturer says increases the risk of side effects such as bleeding between periods, breast tenderness and blood clotting disorders. It is, however, recommended for use by forgetful and busy women. It is placed on the skin and left there for three weeks at a time. After it is taken off, it can be left off for one week and replaced the next week for another three-week interval.
Vivelle Dot, also known as Estra Derm, is an oestrogen patch prescribed for women undergoing menopause. It is applied to the abdomen and may deliver between .0375 and .1 milligram of estradiol or oestrogen per day. The patch must be reapplied two times a week and replaces lost oestrogen, lessening the symptoms of menopause. Users have reported a decrease in hot flushes and vaginal dryness. Side effects can include abdominal bloating, breast tenderness, change in libido, headaches, nausea and dizziness.
Although approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as primarily effective for post-menopausal oestrogen replacement therapy, Alora's labelling shows secondary approval as therapy for pre-menopausal women with insufficient ovaries. Alora offers the same menopausal symptom relief benefits as Vivelle Dot and must also be applied twice a week. The patch delivers between .025 and .1 milligram of estradiol per day. Alora side effects may include abdominal cramps, hair loss, headache, breast pain and irregular vaginal bleeding.
Climara is FDA-approved for post-menopausal oestrogen replacement therapy and secondary therapy for pre-menopausal women with low amounts of oestrogen. Unlike Vivelle Dot and Alora, however, Climara has to be applied only every seven days. Climara delivers at least .025 milligrams of estradiol per day. It also decreases menopausal symptoms like hot flushes and vaginal dryness and may be used to prevent osteoporosis. Climara's side effects are the same as those reported with Vivelle Dot use.