WHAT IS THE BIRTH CONTROL PATCH?
What is the birth control Patch?
The birth control Patch is a pretty good method. It’s 99.7% effective when used perfectly, but since you have to manage it yourself, there is room for error, so with typical use, it’s only 91% effective. It requires less maintenance compared to the Pill. You need to change it every week, which is better than every day. It is not as good as the Ring, which you need to change every 3-4 weeks, the Shot, which you need to re-dose every 3 months, or the Implant/Rod and IUDs, which last for years without you needing to do anything once they’re put in.
It is a small, square patch. There are many places on your body that you can stick it, including your arm, hip, back, or butt. It contains both estrogen (ethinyl estradiol 0.75 mg) and progesterone (norelgestromin 6 mg). Brand name “Ortho-Evra.” There are other types out there, but the classic one is “Ortho-Evra.”
Because it contains estrogen, it would not be safe to use for certain groups of women (such as women with migraine headaches with an “Aura” (changes that signal the headache is coming on) and smokers over age 35). Click here to learn more about estrogen vs. estrogen-free birth controls.
It delivers a steady amount of both hormones, so it stops you from ovulating (ovaries releasing an egg every month) and having real periods. You can still have a “fake” period every month if you want to, though. The typical recommended instructions are to use the Patch for 3 weeks (changing every week, so you’d go through 3 Patches), and then don’t put on a 4th Patch for the 4th week of the month, so you’d let yourself have a fake “period.” Then repeat.
You can choose to skip this fake “period” and just put on another Patch for this last week. You would never be Patchless; you’d basically put a new one on every week. Some women like the feeling of having a period every month, and others do not. It’s completely up to you.
Contrary to popular belief, you do NOT need to have a period every month to “clean everything out”!! There is NO HARM to your health to never have periods again! All hormonal birth control thins the lining of your uterus, so cells do not build up as much.
There can be an adjustment period to the hormones, however, and you can have irregular spotting/bleeding during this time. It can take several months to adjust. Also, if you keep skipping periods, at some point you may have some “Breakthrough Bleeding”/spotting, which means bleeding despite using the added hormones. If it bothers you, you can do a sort of reset by giving your body 1 week without added hormones.
Like all other hormonal birth control methods, you need to wait at least 7 days for it to take effect. You are not protected from pregnancy until after 7 days of using this! So use backup methods such as condoms, abstinence, or even overlapping with certain other hormonal birth controls is fine. The Patch has the HIGHEST dose of estrogen of all the methods (about 2x-3x as much as the Pill), so it’s not recommended to use it with another birth control that has estrogen in it for this overlap time. Never fear though, you have much higher estrogen levels during pregnancy than any of the birth controls!
If you use the same Patch for longer than 1 week, the hormones will have run out and you are also no longer protected from pregnancy. Put a new one on or use another method as soon as possible, and don’t forget you’ll have to wait 7 days again for it to take effect. When you change Patches, it’s recommended to use a different spot on our body to give your skin a break.
The Patch is quite sticky and water-resistant, but if it does falls off, if it’s been less than 24 hours, you can just put it back on in the same place. If it’s been over 24 hours, you are no longer protected! You must put on a NEW patch and use backup birth control for 7 days. It’s very rare for it to fall off, less than 3% chance.
Side effects include headaches, nausea, bloating, and breast tenderness. Because the Patch has higher amounts of estrogen than all the other methods, you can troubleshoot with your doctor by switching to a different method that has lower estrogen, or even no estrogen at all.
Because of the estrogen, it is NOT safe to use in certain cases, such as for women with migraine headaches with an “Aura” (changes that signal the headache is coming on), smokers over age 35, women who’ve just had a baby less than 4-6 weeks ago, or anyone with a previous blood clot or stroke. There are many other conditions that you can learn more about here. MAKE SURE TO GO THROUGH YOUR MEDICAL HISTORY THOROUGHLY WITH YOUR DOCTOR BEFORE STARTING ON THIS BIRTH CONTROL!!!
That’s it for the Patch! As always, feel free to message me with any questions or concerns!