When it comes to birth control methods, it’s fundamental to understand that safety has always been a topic of concern. Thanks to healthcare advancements, there are several birth control methods and practices available for use. A relatively new contraceptive method that has shown promising results is the contraceptive patch. Let’s discuss in brief about the use, functioning, and effectiveness of a birth control patch. 

What is a Contraceptive Patch?

A contraceptive or birth control patch is a transdermal patch that releases hormones like progesterone and estrogen to prevent pregnancy. Since, these hormones are naturally present in the human body, these patches do not introduce any external substances into the human body, they are safe and can be used under most circumstances. It is a small plastic bandage-like square patch that is worn on the skin of the buttocks, belly, upper arm, or back. 

How does it Work?

A contraceptive patch consists of synthetic estrogen and progestogen. When worn on the skin, the hormones get absorbed in the bloodstream, thereby preventing ovulation. Additionally, the patch also thickens the mucus of the cervix, providing an additional layer of security to prevent fertilization. 

How is it Used?

The application of the birth control patch is relatively straight-forward, but should be carried out carefully as mistakes while using can reduce its contraceptive effectiveness. 

The process of applying the birth control patch is identical to that of a bandage.

  • First, the area that you wish to apply the patch should be carefully cleaned and dried.
  • Then, peel off a small portion of the plastic to reveal the adhesive backing of the patch.
  • Place the sticky side of the patch on your skin and peel the rest of the plastic backing off while ensuring the patch has adhered to your skin securely.
  • Be  mindful in ensuring you don’t accidentally touch the sticky adhesive as it can deteriorate the contraceptive effect of the patch.

The effect of one patch lasts for seven days, and should be replaced with a new one every eighth day. 

A contraceptive patch also allows you to regulate your menstrual cycle. If you want to continue your regular menstrual cycle, apply (and reapply) the patch in the manner described above for 21 days,  then take a break of seven days. The management of days depends on each individual’s menstrual cycle. 

Who should Use It?

Anyone can use this method of birth control, but there are certain groups of women for whom this method might be the best. Women with one or more of the following conditions should consider using contraceptive patches over other birth control methods:

  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension or hyperlipidemia 
  • Blood-clotting disorders
  • Women who smoke regularly

Who should Avoid It? 

You should avoid using contraceptive patches if you have one or more of these health disorders or conditions.

  • Migraine
  • Liver disease
  • Excessive vaginal bleeding, usually unexplained
  • Cancer of any type (or history of cancer)
  • Heart or pulmonary disorders like stroke, heart attack, hypertension, etc.
  • Hyperlipidemia and blood-clotting disorders
  • Allergy to progesterone, estrogen, or other birth-control hormones or supplements

Benefits of using a Contraceptive Patch (Evra Birth Control Patch)

The most significant benefit of using a contraceptive patch is its effectiveness. This birth control method has shown success rates of 90-95 percent, along with being one of the safest contraceptive methods existing to date. 

Moreover, it is simple to use and affordable. However, it does not prevent STDs; thus, to attain the best results, use a contraceptive patch with a condom or other barrier contraceptive methods. 

Birth control pills and contraceptives remain the most popular choices for birth control. However, people are beginning to learn more about and embrace the patch method, accounting for its increased popularity in the last few years. 

What are the Risks & Side Effects of Using a Contraceptive Patch (Evra)?

Although contraceptive patches are generally safe, they can pose some risks and side effects. Nausea, vomiting, and skin irritation are typical side effects of a birth-control patch. However, people with cardiovascular disorders such as stroke, heart attack, or pulmonary diseases should avoid using contraceptive patches.

  • Birth control patch side effects – The birth control patch may come with some notable side effects, and they include: an increased risk of blood-clotting, heart attack, stroke, liver cancer, just to name a few. There may be spotting or bleeding in between periods as well, along with menstrual and abdominal pain. Some women experience breast tenderness and pain. It is recommended that the patch not be placed in the same spot every time, as it may cause skin irritation for some. Other side effects may include headaches and hormonal acne. 
  • Birth control patch and STIs – The birth control patch does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
  • Birth control patch and skin irritation – The birth control patch may cause irritation if it’s consistently placed in the same area of the skin.  It is advised to not put lotion before placing the patch on the skin, to support adherence. Check daily to ensure that the patch is still on, since it’s a sticker after all.

If you are using this mode of birth control for the first time, you may experience some typical side effects mentioned below:

  • Skin irritation
  • Breast tenderness
  • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • Headache

Apart from these side effects, you may experience sudden & severe chest pain, blindness, abdominal pain, two or more missed periods, and fatigue. These conditions, although rare, can be severe, even life-threatening. Therefore, if you experience early signs of these conditions, visit a doctor immediately.

Birth Control Patch Effectiveness

If you use the patch correctly, it is 99% effective in preventing pregnancy. Simply change your patch every week and wear it in the right place (buttocks, back, stomach). However, the patch may lose its effectiveness if not used correctly. To ensure the patch works as intended, be sure to do the following:

  • make sure the patch has been applied correctly
  • ensure the patch does not remain off of your body for more than two days
  • replace the patch every week.

Certain types of medicines can reduce the effectiveness of the patch, such as

  • Antibiotics (Rifamate, Rifampin, and Rifampicin)
  • Griseofulvin
  • Some HIV medicines
  • Some anti-seizure medicines

You can increase the patch’s overall effectiveness even further by using it with other contraceptives like barrier devices and oral pills.

Birth control patch & convenience

One of the significant advantages of a birth control patch is its ease of use. It’s great if you don’t want to take birth control pills daily or look for barrier devices like condoms every time you want to have intercourse. You only have to remember your patch change day and to replace it on schedule to avoid pregnancy.

The patch protects you from pregnancy all day, every day. Although you need a prescription to buy birth control patches, you can purchase several packs at once and get a few months of your pregnancy protection sorted.

Birth control patch & periods

The patch makes your period regular and easy-to predict. In addition to this,  it allows you to decide whether you want to get periods or skip them. The patch also releases hormones that can help reduce menstrual cramps.

Birth control patch and it’s Health Benefits

The birth control patch comes with notable advantages when compared to other birth control methods. Firstly, it doesn’t require daily reminders. 

The birth control patch has some side effects as well, but luckily, many of them do more good than harm. Apart from preventing pregnancy, the patch offers several health benefits, such as the prevention of:

  • acne
  • cysts in ovaries and breasts
  • bone thinning
  • ovarian and endometrial cancers
  • ectopic pregnancy
  • iron deficiency
  • infection of uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes
  • premenstrual syndrome

Birth control patch and pregnancy

Since the birth control patch is not a long-term or permanent contraceptive method like Intrauterine Devices, you can get pregnant whenever you feel the time is right. All you need to do is stop using it, and you are ready to conceive.

After stopping use of the patch, it will take your periods a couple of months to return to their regular cycle. If your periods were irregular before you began using the patch, you might have irregular or no periods for up to six months.

If you haven’t been using the patch for more than two days, there are chances of pregnancy even if your periods aren’t back to normal yet.

What is the Safest Contraceptive Method?

Contraceptive methods vary widely, ranging from natural methods like abstinence to surgical methods like vasectomy and tubectomy. Different methods of birth control offer various benefits and side effects, and choosing the best option depends entirely upon your requirements/circumstances.

As the graph suggests, safety is one of the most significant concerns for people using contraceptives.

When it comes to the safest birth control methods, barrier contraceptives are the most reliable as they prevent both STDs and pregnancy. If you want a prolonged contraceptive method, IUCDs can be an excellent choice for you. If you do not plan on ever getting pregnant, surgery is a permanent solution.

key concerns about contraceptives

The Best Alternatives to Patches

If you want to produce a similar effect, you can use contraceptive pills. Birth control pills produce estrogen and progesterone in the bloodstream and have the same mode of action as contraceptive patches. However, be sure to keep in mind that none of the contraceptive methods, except barrier contraceptives, prevent STDs.

The convenience and effectiveness of the birth control patch have made it an extremely popular contraceptive option. If you’re still unsure about whether or not  the birth control patch is a good option for you, consult with your doctor or medical professional.

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