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Birth Control Patch

Birth Control Patch

Table Of Contents

What is a Birth Control Patch?

A birth control patch is commonly known as Ortho Evra (or Evra patch). The beige patch sticks to the skin and helps prevent pregnancy. The patch is applied to the skin once a week for three weeks straight. The forth week does not require a patch.

It is important to note that the Ortho Evra patch has recently been replaced with the Xulane patch, due to a new manufacturing company. If you currently use the Ortho Evra patch, please consultant a doctor to switch over to the Xulane patch.

The cost of most patches is $0-80 per box. However, the overall cost will depend on your location and your medical insurance coverage.

Other effective methods, which release the same hormones as the patch, are the vaginal ring and birth control pills.

Read about each birth control option and consult with your physician to decide on the best one for your specific body.

How Does the Contraceptive Patch Prevent Pregnancy?

The patch releases hormones, just like other birth control methods.

These hormones are chemicals that control different parts of the body, helping to prevent women from becoming pregnant.

How do I use the Patch?

The patch can be applied on the skin of your outer arm, stomach, back or buttocks. It must be applied once a week, for three weeks straight. Then you have one week with no patch on at all.

Birth Control Patch

It’s that simple, but make sure the patch doesn’t fall off and don’t forget to change it after the seven days.

The first day that you apply the patch is considered your “patch day.” This day determines which day of the week you will be changing your patch.

During the patch-less week, you will most likely have your period. If you are still bleeding when your new patch day comes around, this is considered normal, just apply a new patch consistent with your weekly schedule.

What are the Benefits Of the Patch?

The Birth Control Patch is easy and safe to use. It does not have to be adjusted or taken daily (like birth control pills). It’s pain-free and very low maintenance. Also, it’s one of the more convenient methods, since you can apply it yourself and don’t need to schedule a doctors appointment.

In addition, some women report more regular, lighter, and shorter periods while using the patch.

The patch also helps to protect against:

  • Acne
  • Headaches/depressions
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Iron deficiency
  • Bone thinning
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Breasts growths (not cancer)
  • Cysts located in breasts and ovaries
  • Infection found in the uterus, tubes and ovaries
  • Ovarian and endometrial cancers
  • Ectopic pregnancy

What are the Side Effects of the Patch?

Some women may experience some undesirable side effects from using the patch. However, most women adjust to the patch within a few months of using it. This is similar with other forms of birth control too.

The most common side effects of the patch include:

  • vomiting and nausea
  • tender breasts
  • bleeding between periods

It is also possible that the patch may cause a woman’s sexual desire to decrease over time because the patch affects her hormones.

In addition, the skin may become irritated or have a reaction to where the patch is placed on the body.

Once a woman stops using the patch it can take one or two months for the period cycle to get back to normal.

More serious side effects have warning signs. If you experience any of the issues below, contact your health care provider immediately:

  • trouble breathing
  • sore legs
  • very bad headaches that come on suddenly
  • unusual headaches that happen more often or are worse than normal
  • yellowing of eyes or skin
  • serious chest or abdomen pain
  • no period after having a period regularly
  • seeing bright, flashing zigzag lines (usually before a bad headache)

How Effective is the Patch?

When the patch is applied to the skin correctly, for the three week duration, it is over 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. This is because it allows the correct release of hormones into the body.

  • Out of 100 women, less than 1 will get pregnant if the patch is used as directed
  • Out of 100 women,  about 9 women will get pregnant if they don’t always use the patch as directed

The patch can be less effective for women who are overweight or for women taking other medicines and supplements. Talk to your doctor about which medications you are currently taking and if these will affect the patch.

The patch does not protect against STI’s, so a male condom or female condom should be used to reduce the risk of infections.

How Safe is the Patch?

Most women can use the birth control patch safely, but there are some risks associated with it. More serious side effects of the patch are rare and are caused by other medical conditions or medications that the woman is taking. Contact a doctor or nurse for more information about if the patch is right for you and your specific body.

You should not be using the patch if you are:

  • Pregnant
  • On prolonged bed rest
  • Smoker (35+ years old)
  • Have had:
    • Serious heart valve problems
    • Heart attack, angina, or stroke
    • Liver or breast cancer
    • Vein inflammation or blood clots
    • Blood-clotting disorders (inherited)
    • Migraine headaches with aura
    • Live disease (serious)
    • High blood pressure (uncontrolled)
    • Diabetes (severe case)

Tips for Using the Birth Control Patch

The patch may come off, but it easily sticks back on.

If it does come off and isn’t sticking anymore, do the following:

  • Less than 48 hours:
    • Apply a new patch and remove it when it needs to be changed on patch day
  • More than 48 hours:
    • Apply a new patch for one week straight and the date you applied the new patch will become the new patch day
    • Use a backup method to avoid pregnancy such as a condom, female condom, sponge, or diaphragm (for 7 days)

If you apply the patch late, follow the steps below:

  • Less than 48 hours:
    • Apply a new patch and continue until patch day
  • More than 48 hours:
    • Apply a new patch and use this date as the new patch day
    • Use a backup method for the next 7 days

If you forget to take your patch off during week four, just remember to take it off and apply a new patch when the new week starts (on patch day).

Check out other Birth Control Options and speak with your doctor before deciding on your birth control method.