Birth Control Patch: How It Works, How to Use, Benefits & Side Effects
A birth control or contraceptive patch is used to maintain safe and convenient birth control. It contains hormones like oestrogen and progestin and can prevent unwanted pregnancy if used correctly. However, it will be essential to know about this patch if you plan to use it to avoid common mistakes.
Are you trying to gain a better understanding of a birth control patch? Keep reading this article for a detailed guide.
What Is a Birth Control Patch?
A birth control patch is a form of a convenient contraceptive method commonly used by teenagers and young people. It is a small sticky patch that you can wear on your arm, lower belly, back or any other body part. Such a patch sends hormones similar to a birth control pill or vaginal ring through your skin, thereby acting as birth control.
How Does the Birth Control Patch Work?
To avoid pregnancy, you must place this patch on your skin once a week or every three weeks. When required, this patch releases oestrogen and progestin through your bloodstream, preventing the ovaries from ovulating. Moreover, it thickens the cervical mucus, blocking sperm from reaching the egg.
It is effective immediately if you use it within the first five days of your period. If you start it any other time, you will need a secondary form of contraception to confirm birth control. People often prefer it over birth control pills because of its convenient usage.
How Effective Is the Birth Control Patch?
In most cases, individuals seem paranoid about the effectiveness of birth control patches. This patch is effective in 99% of cases. However, the catch is that one should be able to use the patch correctly. If you fail to apply or change the patch at the right times, the patch will not be effective. These errors have caused a drop in its effectiveness to about 91%.
What Are the Benefits of a Birth Control Patch?
Compared to other forms of contraception, birth control patches can be beneficial to gain long-term birth control. Here are some of the advantages that help it to stand out.
- Healthier Period Cycles: Using a birth control patch helps to improve the period cycle among women. It ensures lighter flow and fewer cramps. Moreover, it helps to ensure a fixed and predictable period cycle, arriving in intervals of 28 days.
- Anaemia Prevention: This patch is also beneficial, as it helps ascertain a lower risk of anaemic tendencies among women. This is mainly because it controls the level of blood loss during period cycles.
- Reduced Bone Thinning: Osteoporosis is a common health condition that women might develop at an older age. It is a result of bone thinning. With a birth control patch, you can ensure a reduction in the level and intensity of bone thinning.
- Reduced Acne Problems: Birth control hormones have a lot of side effects on the human body. One such issue is related to acne and skin problems. Using a birth patch will help you avoid getting acne.
- Limited Problems With Cysts: Cysts in the breast and ovaries are common problems among young women. However, when they are wearing birth control patches, they can block ovulation and maintain healthy periods. In addition, it reduces the risks of cyst formation.
- Reduced Cancer Risks: Birth control patches also effectively lower the possibilities of endometrial and ovarian cancers among women. Hormonal IDUs are known for thinning the endometrial lining, which reduces its risks. Birth control patches contain such IDUs.
- Limited Infection Risks: Users of birth control patches can ensure a lower risk of infection in the fallopian tubes, ovaries, and uterus. It is less effective than other methods of birth control, like condoms. However, its contributions are not negligible.
- Easy to Use: Birth control patches are much easier to use than other means of birth control. For instance, one must take birth control pills at a particular time every day, which can be a liability. Moreover, you do not need your partner's cooperation to use it, and there is no disruption in your intimate moments.
What Are the Side Effects of a Birth Control Patch?
Now that you know the effectiveness of a birth control patch, it will be beneficial to know some of its disadvantages and side effects to understand it better. Once you start using this patch, you might experience the following symptoms.
- Breast tenderness
- Significant changes in the period cycle
- Skin irritation
- Mood swings
- Abdominal pain
- Dizziness and fatigue
- Vaginal infections
These side effects of a birth control patch might seem severe, but they do not last for more than a month. If it continues for longer, consider visiting a doctor and seeking medical attention. Moreover, a birth control patch is not practical to protect you against STIs. You will need other contraceptive means like condoms to get this coverage.
How Much Does a Birth Control Patch Cost?
A birth control patch usually costs $30 and can be up to $44. In India, its price starts from ₹1,000. However, if you have health insurance, you can obtain a birth control patch free of cost from the insurance provider.
Where to Get a Birth Control Patch?
Birth control patches are usually available over the counter. You can get it quickly from a local drugstore or pharmacy. However, the owners might ask for a prescription before giving this patch. Therefore, remember to ask for a prescription from a doctor before purchasing a birth control patch.
How to Use a Birth Control Patch?
Knowing the right way to use a birth control patch to ensure its effectiveness is essential. Here are the effective ways to use a birth control patch effectively.
- If you start using a patch from Monday, you can only apply a new patch on Monday itself. So do not use it on any other day of the week.
- When applying, make sure that your skin is clean and dry. Hold the sticky side of the patch on your skin for about ten seconds.
- The best places to apply a birth control patch include the upper or outer arm, belly, back or butt cheeks.
- Avoid applying the patch to such body parts that are more likely to be rubbed by tight clothing. For instance, people who wear waistbands or tight pants should avoid applying the patch in the waist section.
- While changing the patch, pull the old one first before applying a new one. Then, try to apply it on a different body part, but keep it limited to 3-4 areas to avoid skin irritation.
- For the first seven days of using a birth control patch, use secondary contraception, like pills or condoms.
- If your patch becomes loose and you forget to change it on the right day, read the instructions that came with the patch and act accordingly. You can also contact your physician for assistance.
- Using an alarm system can be beneficial on the days that you have to change the patch. You can also mark the calendar for your convenience.
- Store your birth control patches at room temperature. They should not be exposed to direct sunlight and avoid storing them in a refrigerator.
Who Can Use a Birth Control Patch?
Normally, anyone looking for birth control can use a birth control patch. It is important to remember that this patch cannot fight against STIs. This patch uses hormones to prevent pregnancy. However, it is unsafe for some people to prevent pregnancy in this manner.
When Should You Avoid Using a Birth Control Patch?
You should avoid using a birth control patch if you have the following health problems.
- Heart problems
- Breast cancer
- High blood pressure
- Blood clotting disorder
- Liver diseases
- Unexplained vaginal bleeding
- Taking medicines or herbal supplements
Additionally, your doctor will likely advise against using a birth control patch in the following cases.
- Those aged 35 years or more are often advised against birth control patches due to a lack of effectiveness.
- Heavy smokers should avoid using it.
- People who weigh more than 190 pounds should not use such patches.
- If you tend to develop jaundice during pregnancy, you should avoid using patches.
- People who recently underwent a major surgical procedure should not use a birth control patch.
- Avoid using a patch if you have extremely sensitive skin, as it can increase skin conditions and irritations.
How Long Do the Effects of the Patch Last?
The patch stops working the moment you remove it and does not apply any other patch. Therefore, its effects last till it is applied to your skin. If you want a long-term effect, you must continue wearing and changing patches weekly. Menstruation might take some time to come back to normalcy. However, an individual can get pregnant at any time without a patch on the skin.
Thus, as you can see, a birth control patch can be immensely beneficial when it comes to blocking unwanted pregnancies. It is a much safer option and easier to use than other contraception methods like birth control pills and condoms. However, the effectiveness of such patches depends on the right usage. Hence, follow the tips mentioned in this article to ensure complete safety with a birth control patch.