A contraceptive patch, or just the patch, is one of the newest forms of hormonal birth control for women. Although it came into the market just a few years ago, the patch became very popular among women of reproductive age. It is an efficient, easy to use and safe form of hormonal contraception.
Although a contraceptive patch was found to be highly effective in birth control, there are certain factors that may affect its efficiency. Effectiveness of the patch may decrease with the improper use. In addition, women who weigh more than 198 pounds should choose other form of birth control as efficiency of the patch may be reduced. Birth control efficiency may decrease when other certain drugs are taken at the same time. These include antifungals, seizure medications and possibly antibiotics. Always ask your doctor about drug interactions with a contraceptive patch. Vomiting and diarrhea usually does not interfere with contraceptive efficiency of the patch.
A contraceptive patch works in the same way like the birth control pill. It contains a combination of two hormones – estrogen and progestin. These hormones inhibit ovulation in the ovary and no egg is released, therefore, pregnancy becomes impossible. They also thicken the cervical mucus, so that it is hard for sperm to reach the uterus. And the last action of hormones in the patch is that they make the uterine lining thinner, preventing implantation of a fertilized egg from occurring. The main difference between the birth control pill and a contraceptive patch is in the way hormones get into the bloodstream. In the patch a combination of estrogen and progestin is absorbed through skin from a contraceptive patch and then gets into the bloodstream. Whereas being on the pill, these hormones enter the bloodstream through gastrointestinal system, therefore the hormonal concentration in the bloodstream depends very much on the state of gastrointestinal system.
How to use a contraceptive patch?
A birth control patch should be applied on the first day of a menstrual cycle. No other method is needed for contraception when the patch is applied. You should place a contraceptive patch on the areas that are not rubbed by clothing. Showering, bathing should not affect the patch but it is a good idea to check everyday whether the patch is in place. You should reapply the patch every week on a different area. For instance, if the first patch was placed on the right buttock the other patch should be applied on the left one. If a contraceptive patch comes off, place a new one within 24 hours. No other method of contraception is needed. If the patch comes off for more than 24 hours, you should start a new cycle and should use an additional method of birth control for one week.