The Patch

Updated: DECEMBER 9, 2019

The patch is the common term for a type of contraceptive worn directly on the skin. Like the oral contraceptive pill, the patch contains estrogen and progesterone/progestin hormones. These hormones are absorbed through the skin into the body, where they prevent pregnancy.

The patch is also called a contraceptive patch.

More About The Patch

Since the patch sits directly onto the skin, it provides a steady stream of hormones to effectively prevent pregnancy. The hormones prevent the ovaries releasing an egg each month. They also thicken the cervical mucus, making it difficult for sperm to make their way to the uterus to fertilize any egg, and thin the uterine lining, making it difficult for any fertilized egg to attach and grow.

The patch can easily fit in with your lifestyle. It should stay on your skin when you are showering, swimming, and sweating, even if your exercise is very active. You must change the patch every week to ensure your body continues receiving the hormones.

With typical use, the patch is roughly as effective as the birth control pill. Many people like the patch because it is easy to use and does not interfere with sex, as condoms do. The hormones in the patch can also make periods more regular, lighter, and less painful. The patch is a good option for people who forget to take the oral contraceptive pill or use condoms. However, unlike condoms, it does not prevent the spread of sexually transmitted infections.

There are few side effects, but some women find the patch irritates their skin. If you experience itching or soreness, you may like to speak to your doctor about an alternative contraceptive method. Some women also experience mild symptoms when they first start using the patch, such as breast tenderness, nausea, and weight fluctuations. These often subside in a few months, once the body has gotten used to the hormones.

Most women can safely use the patch. However, it is not suitable for smokers over the age of 35, women at high risk of blood clots, women with liver and gall bladder complaints, and some breastfeeding women. It may also be less effective for overweight and obese women.


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