What is a Birth Control Patch?
The birth control patch, also known by its prescription name of Ortho Evra, was introduced on the market in 2002. Used as a form of hormonal contraception, the birth control patch is a small square, resembling a band-aid, which sticks to the skin. It is considered a highly-effective form of birth control which requires reapplication once a week.
How do you use the Patch?
Start using your birth control patch right away by deciding what area of skin you would like to place it upon. Suggested locations include the stomach, upper arm, upper back or your buttocks. Be sure to always apply it to clean, dry skin and don’t apply lotion, powder or makeup near it.
Open the foil pouch containing the patch so that it lying flat. Next, peel the patch off of the foil pouch. Peel about half of the plastic from the patch, while being careful not to touch the sticky section. Peel of the rest of the plastic as you stick the patch to your skin. Finish by pressing the patch against your skin with the palm of your hand for about 10 seconds.
Once a week for three weeks, when it is time to wear a new patch, apply it in the same way. During the fourth week, you do not wear a patch. Check every few days to make certain that your patch has not come loose. If you notice that your patch has fallen off, plan on using backup contraception for the following week.
How effective is the Patch?
Planned Parenthood offers the following information on the effectiveness of the birth control patch. They indicate that it works 99% of the time for women who always use the patch correctly and it is effective for 91% of women who don’t always use it properly. Women should be sure to change their patch at the same time each day and each week. Your best bet may be to establish when you are going to do this before you even go and get the patch from your doctor.
What are the advantage and disadvantages?
Advantages of the Patch
A simple and convenient form of contraception, the birth control patch is a great option for many women. It regulates the menstrual cycle and allows shorter, lighter periods with less cramping. It is highly-effective and unlike other birth control methods, you only have to remember to use it once a week.
Disadvantages of the Patch
Be advised that the birth control patch will not protect you against sexually transmitted diseases. There are also several side effects which may be experienced as a result of using it. Skin irritation is the most common complaint. Women may have bleeding between their periods, along with breast tenderness, nausea and vomiting. If you experience these side effects for longer than 3 months, it is time to ask your doctor about other birth control options.
Is it Safe?
Is the birth control patch perfectly safe? The answer is that it is, for the right patient. Women who may experience complications from the patch include women over 35, those who smoke, have diabetes, high blood pressure or cholesterol, or those who have inherited blood clotting conditions. Rare but serious side effects which may occur from the birth control patch include deep vein thrombosis, stroke, pulmonary embolism and a heart attack. However, it should be noted that these complications are possible with all types of hormonal birth control methods, such as the birth control pill.