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Contraceptive patch

Contraceptive patch is a type of hormonal contraception which contains two hormones (estrogen and progesterone/predestines). Contraceptive patches were invented in 2002 by Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceutical. As most hormonal contraception methods, this contraceptive device is also very effective. Mode of contraceptive action is very similar to birth control pills (combined oral contraceptive pills). Contraceptive patch looks like small, square plastic bandage which should be applied on skin and replaced once per week. Each patch has a sticky side that can be attached to skin. This contraceptive device is pretty effective method of contraception – less than 1% users get pregnant while having it in skin.

Many women instead of using birth control pills which require permanent attention and discipline prefer contraceptive patches which can be applied on the skin insuring contraceptive effect by continuously (gradually) release of two hormones and by delivering them into body. Women easily can apply contraceptive patches (Ortho Evra, Xulane) on different parts of body including buttocks, belly, chest (not breasts) and outer part of upper arm. Patches never should be applied on creams, makeup, power or any cosmetic products. They shouldn’t be applied also on red or irritated or cut skin.

Contraceptive patch effectiveness

Effectiveness of this type of contraception depends on how it was used – failure rate is less than 1% when patches were implemented correctly and failure rate can be up to 9% in cases when women did not follow proper instructions (ether forgot to change the patch in time or applied patch wrongly). Best effectiveness can be achieved when patch is changed at the same time on the same day each week. According to pharmaceuticals, Ortho Evra birth control patch is 99% effective when used correctly. Overweight and obese women could have less effectiveness. Decreased effectiveness was noted in women over 90kg (198 pounds).

Certain medications such as Rifampin (anti-tuberculosis) and supplements (St. John’s Wort) can interfere with contraceptive patches and make them less effective.

Contraceptive patch mode of action

Contraceptive patch

Hormones from contraceptive patches are absorbed into the bloodstream through skin – they provide birth control due blocking ovulation (keeping ovaries from egg release). Same hormones are responsible for thickening of cervical mucus (forming a plug in cervix) and for thinning of uterus internal lining which create obstacles for sperm to run through cervix and make impossible fertilization and implementation.

Full contraceptive effect can be achieved after one week from initial start of using it. Contraceptive patch can be effective only for one week – it should be replaced on the same day of the week for 3 weeks in a row. In total it should be applied once a week during 3 weeks and during fourth week women should experience normal menstrual period (without contraceptive device).

Contraceptive patch advantages

  • High effectiveness up to 99%,
  • It is easy to use without any medical service providers – it is small and discreet,
  • It makes menstrual periods lighter and more regular,
  • May relieve premenstrual tension and prevent premenstrual syndrome,
  • Reduce or eliminate menstrual cramps and acne.

Contraceptive patch disadvantages

  • Requires special prescription from medical professionals,
  • Doesn’t protect from sexually transmitted diseases,
  • Women could experience local skin irritation,
  • Some side effects could be disturbing (bleeding between periods, nausea, breast tenderness).

Contraceptive patch – how to use

First, you need a prescription from your doctor. Once you bought it, open the patch and apply on clean dry skin on your stomach, upper arm, upper back, shoulder, or buttocks. Push the patch against your skin for 10 seconds using the palm of your hand.

Ideal time to start birth control patch is first day of your menstrual cycle (first days of period). You will be protected from unwanted pregnancy from the first day of patch application.

Contraceptive patch needs to be removed and changed every week during 3 weeks. Patch should be removed on the same day the following week and a new one should be attached to skin immediately. On 4th week take a break – it is a time for regular normal menstrual period. Then, start again the following week.

It is recommended to change patch application place each time – it will help to avoid skin irritation or any skin reactions. It is also advised to check the patch regularly just to make sure that the patch has not fallen off. If contraceptive device (patch) has been off for less than 48 hours, reapply it as soon as possible (if it is still sticky) or use a new one. You still will be protected. If you missed your patch for 48 hours or longer, just start a new package (new patch cycle) by applying a new patch as soon as possible. During lost days you will need extra protection (preferably condoms).

Contraceptive patch side effects

  • Breast discomfort or tenderness,
  • Skin irritation or allergy,
  • Headaches and nausea,
  • Weight gain,
  • Mood changes,
  • Bleeding or spotting between periods.

Contraceptive patch contra-indications

  • Pregnancy and breastfeeding,
  • Women with thrombosis (blood clots),
  • Women with history of heart attack or stroke,
  • Smokers after 35,
  • Women with cancer or with cancer history,
  • Women with liver or gallbladder problems.

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