Hormonal contraception is the most reliable way to prevent unwanted pregnancy.
The pharmaceutical market is replete with numerous hormonal contraceptives. They are presented in different pharmacological forms.
This gives a woman the opportunity to choose a remedy taking into account her preferences, individual characteristics and recommendations of the gynecologist.
The modern method of protecting a woman from an unwanted pregnancy is the use of special patches. Gynecological practice and numerous patient reviews characterize the birth control patch as a reliable, convenient and safe option.
At first glance, this contraceptive looks like an ordinary adhesive patch and sticks in exactly the same way. The action of this hormonal agent is based on the daily dosed release of hormones into the blood through the skin, therefore, this contraceptive is called the transdermal therapeutic system (TTC).
How does the birth control patch work?
Hormones that enter the woman’s blood affect the reproductive system in the following way:
- the effect of the pituitary on the ovarian function is inhibited;
- the ovulation process is blocked in the ovaries, that is, the egg does not exit the follicle and fertilization becomes impossible;
- the mucus in the cervix becomes very thick and viscous, which blocks the activity of sperm and minimizes the possibility of a fusion of germ cells;
- the inner lining of the uterus (endometrium) becomes very thin, this prevents the fertilized egg from attachment for further development.
The contraceptive patch refers to combined contraceptives.
The hormone complex included in its composition provides the woman with reliable multilevel protection acting not only at the cellular level but also at the level of regulation of the functions of the reproductive and endocrine systems.
The patch is temporary, so when the drug is canceled, pregnancy can occur almost immediately. A woman should remember that after the patch withdrawal the body needs to be prepared for pregnancy.
According to studies, the effectiveness of the birth control patch is about 92%, the manufacturer guarantees protection of 99.4%. The data difference is significant but has a physiological explanation. Women with a bodyweight of more than 90 kg are more likely to become pregnant.
The desired concentration of the active substance is reached 48 hours after the patch is attached to the skin. It persists throughout the entire period of wearing hormonal medications. The instruction offers several options for attaching the hormone patch to the body. The effectiveness of the contraceptive does not depend on the place of application chosen by the woman.
Watch a contraceptive patch animation:
How to use a birth control patch?
The official instruction for the contraceptive patch includes the following sequence of actions:
- Fixation of the contraceptive product can be performed on any day, regardless of the phase of the ovarian-menstrual cycle;
- Within 7 days after fixing the patch, the woman must use additional methods of contraception (male condoms, spermicides);
- Fix the patch on dry, clean skin that does not contain visible damage;
- It is recommended to replace the patch on day 8, after which a second replacement is performed on day 15, and a tertiary replacement is carried out on day 22.
During the last week of the month, you must refrain from using the patch. Instead, you should use one of the alternative non-hormonal methods of contraception.
The skin area for the contraceptive application must meet the requirements:
- The skin should not be damaged, clean and dry;
- There should be no skin folds in the place of application;
- The skin should not have a lot of hair at the place of patch attachment;
- The place of gluing should not be in close contact with clothing;
- It is unacceptable to glue the contraceptive on the chest;
- When changing the patch, it is advisable to change the place of application;
- Before gluing a contraceptive to the skin, cosmetics should not be used.
Patch application features
- The contraceptive effect of the hormone patch glued on the first day of the uterine cycle occurs immediately;
- The use of the contraceptive in the middle of the uterine cycle requires additional methods of contraception during the first week after application;
- During the break (4th week of the uterine cycle), the contraceptive effect of the product is maintained;
- If you previously took birth control pills, then the interval after their cancellation and application of the contraceptive should not exceed 7 days;
- If more than a week has passed since the cancellation of the hormonal pills and during this period you had unprotected sexual intercourse, before the patch application you need to make sure that conception has not occurred;
- Breastfeeding women should not use the contraceptive as hormones get into breast milk;
- This hormonal contraceptive can be used on the day of abortion if the gestational age is less than 12 weeks;
- If more than 5 days have passed after an abortion, the product can only be used on the 1st day of your period;
- In the first three months of wearing the patch, brown discharge may occur. If it does not stop after three months, you should see a gynecologist;
- In case of untimely replacement of the contraceptive (less than 48 hours), there is no danger since the protective effect remains;
- If the first patch is not applied after a break (4th week), you need to apply it, remember the day, and use additional birth control during the first week;
- If the second (third) contraceptive is not replaced, apply it, remember this day, and start a new countdown from this day (three weeks and a break).
- Additional birth control methods should be used during the first week;
- If the third contraceptive is not removed in time, it must be removed and a new one applied on the set day of the week;
- If the patch is accidentally glued off for a period of less than a day, it must be replaced but the contraceptive effect is maintained;
- When removing the patch for a period of more than a day, replace it, remember this day and begin the countdown of a new four-week cycle from this day.
- In the first week after contraceptive replacement, additional methods of birth control should be used;
- If you do not get your period during the fourth week (during the break in use) and at the same time there was no peeling of the patch, it was timely replaced, the use of contraceptive should be continued. If there have been situations that could lead to a decrease in the contraceptive effect, stop using the patch and consult a gynecologist. The absence of menstruation after two cycles is a serious reason for an immediate visit to the doctor;
- The reason for immediately contacting a gynecologist is the pregnancy that has occurred during the use of the hormonal patch, in which case it should be stopped immediately.
Benefits of the birth control patch
Although the patch is very effective, it has significant advantages:
- you need to change the contraceptive once a week;
- the contraceptive effect of the patch lasts about 2 days;
- the menstrual cycle becomes regular, pain during menstruation decreases, discharge in the middle of the uterine cycle is much less common;
- the contraceptive effect of the drug persists even if you have digestive system disorders;
- it significantly reduces the risk of malignant neoplasms in the uterus and ovaries;
- dosed and uniform intake of hormones in the blood, no jumps in concentration (which is observed when taking oral contraceptives);
- reliable fixation – the patch does not peel off during intensive physical loads and water procedures;
- easy to use.
Disadvantages of the contraceptive patch
The disadvantages of the hormonal patch are a relatively high cost, a small risk of peeling off (which reduces a contraceptive effect), and possible allergic reactions.
The use of any hormonal agent, including the birth control patch, should be agreed with the attending physician. A doctor needs to be informed about the medications you are taking and the chronic diseases you may have.
The effect of the patch is similar to the action of hormonal combination oral contraceptives, so the patch has the following contra-indications:
- circulatory system diseases;
- malignant tumor;
- uterine bleeding;
- age over 35 years;
- frequent severe headaches;
- age under 18 years;
The contraceptive patch is the newest combination hormonal contraceptive. Its effectiveness is proven by practice. The patch prescription should be done by a doctor. When using this contraceptive you must strictly adhere to the instructions.
The body’s response to contraception is unpredictable: everyone reacts individually to irritants. The possible side effects of the con-traceptive patch are:
- interruptions in appetite;
- skin irritation and itching;
- sleep disturbance;
- increased fatigue;
- increase in blood pressure;
- breast enlargement and tenderness;
- failure of the menstrual cycle.
There is an opinion that prolonged use of the birth control patch or any other contraceptive increases the risk of breast cancer. While there are no exact conclusions, work on this issue is ongoing.
The use of the patch rarely gives side effects. Symptoms may be mild. If symptoms sharply deteriorate, it is necessary to consult a doctor.
Is it safe to use a contraceptive patch?
Yes. The patch does not affect your health. The product contains hormones that generally do not have an effect on health.
However, in some cases, you’d better choose a different method of birth control, for example: if you smoke more than 15 cigarettes a day and you are over 35 years old, and also if you are at risk for cardiovascular diseases. Consult your doctor about this topic.
The patch does not adversely affect the ability to bear children. If you plan to become pregnant, just remove the patch.
You may have side effects in the first months of use, such as chest pain, headache, nausea, or skin irritation. They usually go away on their own. If they remain for a long time, consult a doctor.
Your period may become less abundant and less painful.
IMPORTANT: The birth control patch does not protect a woman and her sexual partner against STIs or HIV. Only a condom can provide such protection.