The birth control patch is a method of contraception. The patch is a small, square material that looks like a plastic bandage. It is placed on the skin once every three weeks, and it releases hormones that prevent pregnancy. After the third week, it is removed and a new one is not used until after a week.
Just like the vaginal ring and the pill, the patch contains the hormones estrogen and progestin. These hormones are released into the body once the patch is placed on the skin. The body absorbs the hormones and the hormones start to prevent pregnancy by stopping the ovaries from releasing eggs and by thickening the cervical mucus so it’s hard for sperm to swim to an egg.
How is the patch used?
The patch is placed on certain parts of the body – upper outer arm, buttock, abdomen or upper torso – and the hormones are absorbed through the skin. The patch is relatively easy to use, safe and convenient
Is it effective?
The patch is very effective in preventing pregnancy as long as it is used the right way. It must be changed at the right time every week and it also must not fall off the skin, although that rarely occurs. Certain medications can also make it less effective like antibiotics and antiretroviral drugs. If used correctly, it is 99% effective in preventing pregnancy. If not used correctly, 9 out of 100 women would get pregnant using it
Who can use the patch?
It is safe for most women but to determine whether it is best for you, you would need to see your doctor. The patch can only be bought with a doctor’s prescription
What are the advantages of the patch?
Once a woman has stopped using the patch and decides she wants to get pregnant, she can get pregnant right away. In other words, the patch does not hinder future pregnancy. It can also prevent or help reduce problems like:
- Premenstrual syndrome
- Ectopic pregnancy
- Cysts in the breasts and ovaries
Are there any disadvantages of using the patch?
The patch may not be very effective in women who are overweight or obese. It would also not work as well in women who may have a busy schedule and are therefore likely to forget when they are to use it.
It is important that it is changed about the same time every week. Just like most forms of birth control, it has its own disadvantages which usually go away in a couple of weeks. They include:
- Bleeding between periods
- Tender breasts
- Soreness on the skin where the patch is placed