When it comes to hormonal contraceptives, people usually think either about pills or implants. However, implants are hard to place and cause discomfort. Pills have a lot of side effects. Besides, women often forget to take them. The manufacturers of contraceptives took into account all the disadvantages of the usual birth control means and created a birth control patch which is now considered the safest and most convenient means among all hormonal contraceptives.
What is a Birth Control Patch?
A birth control patch is a thin smooth 1¾-inch (4½-centimeter) square patch that sticks to the skin. It is glued once a week on the stomach, shoulder, upper arm, or upper back. It is necessary to change the patch once a week for three weeks. There is no need to change the birth control patch on the fourth week since it’s the time of menstruation.
The main purpose of the birth control patch is to protect against the onset of an unwanted pregnancy. The degree of reliability of the contraceptive patch is close to 100% (99.4 %) according to manufacturers. A birth control patch is one of the most effective contraceptive means. By degree of protection birth control patch is close to barrier contraception, such as a condom.
In fact, a birth control patch is an analog of the contraceptive pill. They have almost the same properties. Therefore, gynecologists often recommend contraceptive patches to normalize the balance in the female body, stabilize the hormonal background, get rid of painful menstruation, bleeding between menstrual cycles, etc.
How does Birth Control Patch Work?
Every day the patch releases substances such as Ethinyl Estradiol and Norelgestromin. Thanks to them, the hormonal contraceptive affects the ovary in such a way that it ceases to produce eggs suitable for fertilization.
In addition, the substances in the contraceptive patch change the mucus in the cervix. So, the sperm can’t get into the uterus. At the same time, the menstrual cycle of a woman is normal but it is not possible to become pregnant.
How to Use Birth Control Patch?
The birth control patch is attached on the first day of menstruation. This is very important because once you comply with the rules of the regime of changing the patch, you can stop using additional contraceptives. Be sure to remember the day of the week when you stuck the birth control patch. It is even better to write the day down in order to know for sure when to change it. This approach will eliminate the possibility you forget to attach the contraceptive patch in time. The instruction requires to paste the remedy and change it once a week within three weeks.
According to the instruction, there is no need to stick the birth control patch in the fourth week. You may have some rest during menstruation. After that, as it’s been mentioned earlier, the patch is stuck again on a certain day of the week, and so on.
Note that you cannot stay without the patch for longer than one week. Otherwise, the contraceptive properties disappear.
To prevent the patch from peeling off, it is necessary to attach it to dry and clean skin. Don’t use creams, powders, or other cosmetic products!
First, you need to choose a place on the body where you will stick the birth control patch. Pay attention to the following:
- Clean skin. Don’t use lotion, powder, or makeup under or near the patch.
- The skin should not be damaged.
- Do not stick the birth control patch in places of folds or where the skin is wrinkled.
- “Bald” skin – the minimum amount of hair at the place of sticking promotes stronger attachment and minimizes the painful effect while peeling the patch off.
- Try to minimize the rubbing of the patch against your clothes.
- Don’t apply the patch to your breast.
Birth Control Patch Side-Effects
Studies have shown that side effects are rare. As a rule, the advantages of this contraceptive are significantly higher than the risks.
In any case, only a doctor can prescribe you this or that contraceptive means.
Doctors prohibit the use of a birth control patch in the following cases:
- present or planned pregnancy
- age over thirty-five years
- smoking or if you quit smoking less than one year ago
- if you take antibiotics
Doctors also do not recommend using a birth control patch if you have or previously had such illnesses as:
- heart diseases
- breast cancer
- frequent headaches
- various diseases of the gastrointestinal tract
Keep in mind that if you just started using the birth control patch, then there can appear the following side effects: high blood pressure, migraine, heaviness in the chest, nausea, and mood swings.
Sometimes women note that in the first month of using the patch they have vaginal bleeding. This should not scare you because everything gets back to normal very quickly.
In addition, experts warn that the prolonged use of this method of contraception in the presence of predisposition can lead to more serious diseases, such as:
- vein thrombosis
- arterial thrombosis
Today, there exists an opinion that the use of the birth control patch, as well as any other hormonal contraceptive, can cause breast cancer. Studies in this area still go on and there is no final conclusion yet.
The Advantages and Disadvantages of Birth Control Patch
Proper use of the birth control patch protects against unwanted pregnancy in 99 percent of cases. The main advantages of this method of contraception include the following:
- Convenience and ease of use. For example, you should take the pill every day but the patch is stuck only once a week.
- The birth control patch is waterproof. You don’t need to worry that it comes off in the shower.
- The dose of hormones is less than in hormonal pills. At the same time, the liver does not suffer.
- There is no need to interrupt sexual contact.
- The birth control patch doesn’t require any special skills to use.
- You need to replace the patch with the new one only once a week.
- Hormonal substances do not enter the stomach while remaining effective.
- Like other hormonal drugs, the patch helps improve your menstruation. It makes it more regular and less painful.
- The use of a birth control patch reduces the risk of such diseases as cancer of the ovaries, uterus, and intestines.
- Also, it reduces the risk of fibroids, ovarian cysts, and non-cancerous diseases of the mammary glands.
The Disadvantages of Birth Control Patch
However, there are disadvantages to using birth control patches. Among them are the following:
- It is a hormonal contraceptive.
- The patch will most likely be visible on the skin.
- The place where you stick the contraceptive patch can be itchy sometimes.
- Though the birth control patch is waterproof, it can come off after frequent contact with water.
- A birth control patch doesn’t protect against sexually transmitted diseases.
- Some women experience side effects, such as migraines, nausea, mood swings, pain, and heaviness in the chest.
Note that the side effects disappear after a few months of using the birth control patch.
Birth Control Patch Reviews
More and more women use birth control patches to prevent unwanted pregnancies. The reviews are 99% positive.
Depending on the individual characteristics, there may be a different reaction of the body to such hormonal therapy. Some side-effects can appear but the majority of women note the convenience and reliability of the patch.
Women who use this contraceptive for many years advise their friends. They admit that the birth control patch has never failed. It did not come unstuck, did not interfere with daily activities, did not cause allergies, did not allow pregnancy, and so on.
Some women prefer birth control patches to birth control pills. They believe that it is much more convenient: you stick the patch and forget about it for the whole week.
A lot of women evaluate the work of birth control patches as “excellent”. However, they note some inconvenience in use: from wearing the patch for a week and constant contact with clothing the patch gets dirty and does not look very nice.
Women using birth control patches also note that menstruation does not cause them trouble anymore. There is almost no pain in the lower abdomen and the menstruation is not so abundant.
Born in Belarus, 1985, a pedagogue and family psychologist, mother. Taking part in procedures of social adaptation of the foster children in new families. Since 2015 is a chief editor of the motherhow.com project, selecting the best and up-to-date material for those, who are planning, expecting, and already having babies.