Birth control patch is an effective and convenient method of contraception for women. It contains the hormones oestrogen and progestin for preventing pregnancy. It has several benefits and few side effects as well. Check them out below and find if it’s suitable for you.
In this article:
All You Need to Know About Birth Control Patch
What is it?
The transdermal contraceptive patch refers to a simple, safe and cost-effective method of birth control. You wear the birth control patch on the belly, back, butt or upper arm. Place a new patch weekly for 3 weeks to use the patch for 21 days in total. It releases hormones for preventing pregnancy. Get one week off before repeating the cycle. So don’t use a patch in the 4th week to allow menstruation.
How does it work?
The birth control patch stops the sperm from meeting your egg, i.e., fertilization, thereby preventing pregnancy. It contains progestin and oestrogen hormones similar to those naturally made by the body. Wearing this patch on specific body parts allows absorption of these hormones through the skin.
The patch stops ovulation, i.e., prevents the ovaries from releasing eggs. Without ovulation fertilisation cannot happen, neither can pregnancy.
The hormones even thicken the cervical mucus that makes the swimming of the sperm to your egg difficult.
Birth Control Patch Benefits
Here are the multiple benefits of using the birth control patch:
It’s effective if used correctly
By following the instructions and using the patch correctly, it can effectively protect you against pregnancy by providing a steady dose of the necessary hormones. Put a new patch timely each week. Wear it when you’re supposed to.
A doctor or a nurse must prescribe you the birth control patch. Using condoms with your patch can give you maximum protection against pregnancy and STDs (sexually transmitted diseases).
It’s a better alternative to contraceptive pills
You can conveniently use the birth control patch if you cannot remember to take contraceptive pills daily as it doesn’t need daily attention. The patch is also easier to use if you have difficulty in swallowing pills. Putting it once a week protects you every day from pregnancy.
It removes the requirement to interrupt sex for contraception
You don’t require the cooperation of your partner to use the birth control patch. Since you don’t need to use it during sex, it doesn’t interfere with sex. Thus, it removes the need for interrupting sex to have contraception. So, the patch can even promote your sex life without worrying about pregnancy.
It has many health benefits
The birth control patch has several other benefits besides pregnancy prevention. The hormones in it can regularise your periods, lighten bleeding, decrease menstrual cramps and protect against pelvic inflammatory disease.
The patch can also ease or prevent the following:
- Cysts in ovaries and breasts
- Bone thinning
- Ectopic pregnancy
- Anaemia (iron deficiency)
- Ovarian and endometrial cancers
- Serious infections in the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries
- Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
You can be pregnant immediately after stopping to use the patch
After using the patch, many people want to have children at the right time. A great benefit of the birth control patch is that it can be removed at any time, letting you to quickly regain fertility.
After stopping the use of the patch, your periods will generally take 1-2 months to return to their normal cycle as before. You may rarely have irregular or no periods for up to 6 months. It’s more likely to happen if you already had irregular periods before beginning the patch. Irrespective of getting your periods, pregnancy can happen after you stop using your patch. So, if you still want to prevent pregnancy, go for another birth control method immediately.
Birth Control Patch Side Effects
A small disadvantage of the birth control patch is remembering to timely change it. You have to wear a new patch on a fixed day of changing patches every week, else you may not have protection from pregnancy. You may use alarms or reminder apps or mark as necessary on your calendar to maintain your schedule. In case of having a very busy life when you might fail to remember changing your patch weekly, you may check out other birth control options like implants or IUDs which almost cannot be messed up.
Like any other medication, the birth control patch may have certain side effects due to the hormones present in it. However, they commonly go away after about 2-3 months. Many people even use it without any problems at all. Primarily, you may find slight soreness on your skin where the patch is. Side effects of the patch may include the following:
- A greater risk of gallbladder disorder, blood-clotting problems, liver cancer, high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke
- Spotting or breakthrough bleeding
- Skin irritation
- Menstrual pain
- Breast tenderness or pain
- Abdominal pain
- Nausea or vomiting
- Mood swings
- Weight gain
- Muscle spasms
- Vaginal discharge and infections
- Fluid retention
The patch also cannot protect you from STIs (sexually transmitted infections). Below 1 out of 100 women become pregnant after typically using the patch for 1 year than by using oral contraceptives.
If these side effects keep bothering you after 3 months’ usage of your patch, consult a doctor or nurse about the more suitable birth control alternative for you. However, don’t stop using the patch before starting to use another birth control method as then you’ll be at risk of getting pregnant.
Very rarely serious problems may arise from using birth control patches. According to research, the patch might raise oestrogen levels in our body in comparison with combination birth control pills taken orally. Compared to combination birth control pills, there may be a slightly greater risk of oestrogen-related problems like blood clots if you use the patch.
Birth control patch is easy, effective and safe provided it’s used in the right way. Use it on the prescription of your nurse or doctor and consult them if you show any long-term side effects.