Different methods of birth control like pills and rig have been around for a while. Sexually active women who do not wish to get pregnant are advised to use some or the other kind of birth control. The patch is a relatively new form of birth control. It is amazingly convenient and quite effective if used correctly. Here are some facts on the birth control patch.
How it is used:
As the name suggests, the birth control patch is a sticky patch worn over the skin. Women can wear the patch in any of the following areas on their body.
• Upper outer arm
• Upper torso (excluding breasts)
A woman who uses the patch has to apply it on the first day of her menstrual period. One patch usually lasts for a week. At the same time next week, the first patch will have to be replaced with a new one. This process has to be continued for 3 weeks. On the fourth week, the patch is not used and the woman gets her period during this time. The cycle is then repeated. During the first 7 days of using the patch, sexually active women will have to use other forms of contraception in addition to the patch.
How it works:
Like other forms of contraception, the patch works by releasing synthetic estrogen and progesterone through the skin. These hormones help to prevent pregnancy by:
• Preventing ovulation
• Reducing chances of implantation
• Thickening the cervical mucus so that sperms have limited mobility
The birth control patch is just as effective as the pill. The efficiency of the patch depends upon its correct usage. The patch is more effective in women who weigh less than 198 pounds. Similarly, delaying the removal and replacement of the patch can reduce its effectiveness. Remember, the patch has to be replaced every week and do not remove a patch before the week is over. Do not cut or trim the patch as per your convenience and do not apply makeup or creams and lotions over the area where you apply the patch. These chemicals can interfere with the delivery of hormones through the skin. Bathing or swimming with the patch does not hamper its efficiency.
Advantages and disadvantages:
The birth control patch is easy to use and safe. It is discreet and reversible. That means that if you wish to get pregnant, you just have to stop using the patch. It is also believed that the hormones in the patch can help protect against ovarian cysts, ectopic pregnancy, PMS, osteoporosis and other such problems.
A disadvantage of the patch lies mainly in its side effects. In some women, the birth control patch can cause side effects like nausea, mood swings, headaches, decreased libido or irritation at the site of application of the patch.
Not recommended for use in women with:
• History of heart problems
• Liver disorders
• High blood pressure
• Migraine headaches
• History of cancer
• Irregular bleeding
The patch is prescribed by a doctor or nurse after routine medical check up. Once you decide to start using the patch, your doctor may ask you to come back after a month or so to monitor your blood pressure and other such parameters and to make sure that the hormones are not affecting your body in any adverse manner.
To conclude, if used wisely and well, the birth control patch is an effective and safe means of birth control.