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      What is Birth Control Patch?


      What is Birth Control Patch?

      Updated on 10 May 2023

      If you are concerned about using IUDs or pills for contraception, then a birth control patch is your safest solution. It looks like a band-aid that sticks to your skin on certain parts of your body to prevent pregnancy. It is a type of hormonal birth control that releases estrogen and progestin into the bloodstream and protects from pregnancy.

      It has been clinically tested and works well for women under 35. It is around 99% effective when used as directed. However, this efficiency rate can decrease to 91% with incorrect usage. Overall, as per Planned Parenthood, it’s 93% effective. 7 out of 100 people using the patch get pregnant every year. It’s indeed a safe and convenient option for short-term contraception.

      How Does The Birth Control Patch Work?

      The patch releases synthetic hormones called estrogen and progestin that prevent the ovaries from releasing eggs. Basically, it fulfils three purposes:

      1. Ovulation inhibition:

      The hormones in the patch prevent the release of an egg from the ovary (ovulation), which is necessary for pregnancy to occur.

      2. Thickening of cervical mucus:

      It makes the cervical mucus thick, which restricts the sperm to reach the egg.

      3. Thins the lining of the uterus:

      The hormones in the patch also make the lining of the uterus (endometrium) thinner, which makes it less likely for a fertilised egg to implant and grow.

      How Effective Is The Birth Control Patch?

      The patch is 99% effective when used as directed. Studies suggest that everyone does not use it strictly as per directions, dropping the effectiveness to 93%.

      The efficiency of the birth control patch is like any other form of birth control. It can be affected by various factors, such as how consistently it is used and whether it is combined with other forms of birth control.

      How To Use Birth Control Patch?

      Using a birth control patch is simple. Just ensure to follow these steps thoroughly:

      1. Begin using the patch on the first day of your menstrual period. This will provide the most immediate protection against pregnancy.
      2. Peel the patch and apply it to a clean, dry area of skin on your stomach, upper arm, buttocks, or upper torso (avoid the breasts). Press down on the patch firmly to make sure it sticks well.
      3. Leave the patch on for 7 days.
      4. After one week, remove the patch and apply a new one to a different area of the skin.
      5. Repeat this process for three consecutive weeks, then take a fourth week off.
      6. After the fourth week, start the process again by applying a new patch on the first day of your menstrual period.

      Please follow the schedule to ensure its effectiveness. If the patch falls off, use an alternate method for the next 48 hours.

      Does The Patch Protect Against STDs?

      No, the birth control patch does not protect against Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs). It only prevents pregnancy by releasing hormones into the bloodstream through the skin.

      STDs are caused by bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms that can be transmitted through sexual contact. The only way to protect yourself from them is to use barrier methods such as condoms, dental dams, and spermicides.

      How Fast Does The Patch Work?

      It will start working as soon as applied it to the skin. However, for the most immediate protection against pregnancy, it's recommended to use the patch on the first day of your menstrual period.

      If you start using the patch at any other time during your menstrual cycle, you will need to use a backup method of birth control, such as condoms, during the first seven days of using the patch.

      It's important to note that the patch may not be effective immediately if you switch from another form of hormonal birth control, such as birth control pills. For such cases, you need to use a backup method of birth control for some time, as determined by your healthcare provider.

      How Safe Is The Birth Control Patch?

      It is generally considered safe for most women. However, like any medication, it can have potential risks. Some of the common birth control patch side effects include

      1. Skin irritation at the site of application;
      2. Headaches;
      3. Nausea;
      4. Changes in menstruation, such as irregular bleeding or spotting;
      5. Breast tenderness
      6. Acne; and
      7. Mood changes.

      Some of the severe but rare side effects are

      1. Blood clots;
      2. Heart attack or stroke;
      3. High blood pressure;
      4. Liver tumours; and
      5. Gallbladder disease.

      Any woman can use a patch to prevent pregnancy. If any unusual symptoms are experienced, contact a healthcare provider immediately. Make sure to have an open and honest conversation about your medical history and any concerns about using the birth control patch to determine if it's the right method.

      Generally, it is considered a safe and effective short-term contraception method. Still, IUDs and implants are more viable and budget-friendly options for those looking for a long-term option.

      You may also like: How to prevent pregnancy after sex?

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