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October 19, 2010

Contraceptive Alternatives – Hormonal Contraceptives – The Patch

The patch is a thin, beige patch that sticks to your skin like a band-aid. Each patch contains one week’s worth of progesterone and estrogen hormones that is released into the skin.

Since 2001 the patch has been used throughout the States. The failure rate is one in one hundred women, per year. An advantage of using this type of contraceptive is that there are fewer side effects like nausea and vomiting. The patch may cause skin irritation and can be detached without being noticed by activities like showering. This can alter the efficiency. The patch can be less effective for women who weigh over 198 pounds.

Just like using other hormonal contraceptives, the patch is based on the menstrual cycle. The patch should be applied the first day of the menstrual cycle, or (like the pill) the first Sunday after the cycle begins. The patch should be changed weekly for 3 weeks in a row. On the fourth week no patch should be worn, and this is when a woman’s period should begin.

The patch is not effective in protecting against STI’s. You can protect against STI’s by using condoms and the patch together. The patch also has a few side effects including irregular bleeding, breast tenderness, and mood swings. These mild side effects will likely disappear after a couple months.

The patch is not suitable for all women. Some medical conditions can make the patch less effective or dangerous. It is not recommended for women who have blood clots, high blood pressure, specific types of cancers, migraine headaches, or diabetes.

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