Birth Control Patch (Contraceptive Patch)

Birth control patch is a thin square contraceptive patch that is applied to the skin to prevent pregnancy. The patch consists of hormones estrogen and progestin and works the same way as birth control pills that deliver estrogen and progestin into the bloodstream throughout the menstrual cycle to prevent pregnancy. Currently the only form of birth control patch that is available in the United States is marketed under the name Ortho Evra which came to the market in 2002.

How it Works

The contraceptive patch is available by prescription only and you will need to visit your health care practitioner for physical exam to determine if you have any health conditions that may interfere with using the patch. If approved, the practitioner will provide you with a prescription which you can use to purchase Ortho Evra.

Starting birth control patch depends on your menstrual cycle. You can either apply the first patch within 5 days after your menstrual cycle begins to provide immediate protection or if you decide to apply the first patch after 5 days since your menstrual cycle begins, you will not be protected during the first 7 days and you should use backup method of contraception such as condoms, diaphragms, or cervical caps to provide you with effective protection.

There are four prefer areas where you can stick contraceptive patch and these include the upper arm, upper torso, abdomen, or buttock. Make sure your skin is clean and dry so the patch can stick firmly to prevent it from becoming loose and falling off. When sticking on the patch try to peel away the clear plastic without touching the sticky surface and pressed firmly for about 10 seconds after applying on your skin to smooth out the surface and avoid cutting the patch for any reason.

birth control patch, contraceptive patch, the patch, effective contraception, Ortho Evra

Birth control patch is used in 4 weeks cycle with 3 weeks on and 1 week off. Each patch last for a week so you will need to change new patch every week and you should change your patch on the same day every week to provide effective contraception. Remove the old one first before sticking on the new patch and always use different areas when changing new patch. For example, week 1 you may stick on upper arm, week 2 you may stick on upper torso, week 3 you may stick on abdomen, week 4 you are not wearing any patch and after week 4 you repeat the cycle again.

The estrogen and progestin released from contraceptive patch work together by preventing ovaries from releasing eggs and pregnancy cannot happen without egg fertilization. The hormones also thicken the mucus layer in the cervix which blocks sperm from entering into the uterus. The hormones also thin the lining of the uterus which can reduce the chance of pregnancy by preventing released egg from attaching to the uterus.

What to do if you forget to change patch?

• If you forget to change the patch in week 1 of the new four week cycle, you should apply the first patch as soon as you remember and the day that you apply new patch will become Day 1 of your new cycle which means you will have to change your new patch on this day every week to provide effective contraception. Every time when you forget to change the patch in week 1 and you start a new cycle you are not protected during the first 7 days and you should use backup method of contraception such as condoms, diaphragms, or cervical caps to provide effective protection.

• In week 2 or week 3 if you forget to change new patch and less than 48 hours have gone by you should apply new patch as soon as you remember. The next patch should be applied on the usual day that you normally change the patch. You don’t have to use backup method of contraception because you are still protected by the patch.

• In week 2 or week 3 if you forget to change new patch and more than 48 hours have gone by you could become pregnant. You will need to start a new four week cycle by applying the patch as soon as you remember and the day that you apply new patch will become Day 1 of your new cycle which means you will have to change your new patch on this day every week to provide effective contraception. You will have to use backup method of contraception because you are not protected during the first 7 days of the new cycle.

• If you forget to remove the patch at the end of your three week cycle and you are still wearing the patch on week 4, you should take if off as soon as you remember. You should start your new cycle on the usual day that you normally change the patch and you don’t need backup contraception.

Advantages

Birth control patch is easier to use than taking pills because you only have to apply once a week and you don’t have to worry about missed pill. The patch only needs to be change once a week and it allows for spontaneous sexual activity. If you decide to get pregnant, the process can be reversed within few days after removing the patch. The patch also provides some of the benefits similar to birth control pills and these may include reducing menstrual cramps and PMS symptoms, reduce acne, breast enlargement, reduce breast disease, and reduce the risk of endometrial and ovarian cancers.

Disadvantages

Birth control patch does not provide full protection against sexually transmitted diseases. You should not use contraceptive patch if you are over 35 years old and smoke cigarettes. The patch may be less effective if you are over 198 pounds. Some of the more common side effects may include irregular bleeding, breast tenderness, low sexual desire, headaches, dizziness, and mood change. The symptom normally goes away after two or three months.

Some may experience more serious problems with using birth control patch and these may include abdominal pain, severe chest pain, vision problem, and severe leg pain. Other possible side effects may also include nausea, depression, skin reaction to patch, and changes in appetite that may results in weight gain or weight loss. You should not use contraceptive patch if you have certain health conditions and these include strokes, circulation problems, blood clots, jaundice, heart problems, breast cancer and cancer of the uterus, undiagnosed vaginal bleeding, liver disease and women who are already pregnant.

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