The Patch

The Patch is a 2 inch by 2 inch transdermal contraceptive system that sticks to your skin and releases hormones through your skin. The Patch contains similar hormones to those found in the pill and can be equally effective if used correctly and consistently. The Patch will be worn on the skin for 7 days and then replaced with a new Patch. After 3 weeks the Patch will be removed but without being replaced by a new Patch. There will be no Patch worn for one week, during this week the woman will have her period. The Patch is an effective form of birth control that does not require a woman to remember to take a pill everyday. While the Patch is effective at preventing pregnancy it provides no protection against STDs.

Watch this video about the Patch to learn more about how it works and what to expect.

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How Does The Patch Work?

The Patch is a small, skin colored patch with an adhesive on one side. The Patch contains a synthetic form of the hormones progestin and estrogen which are hormones produced naturally in a woman's body. When the Patch is applied to the body it releases small amounts of the hormones through the skin and into the blood stream. The hormones work to prevent pregnancy by preventing ovulation from occurring and by thickening the cervical mucus which may help block sperm from entering the uterus.

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How Effective Is The Patch For Pregnancy Prevention?

When used perfectly the Patch is up to 99% effective. This means that 1 out of 100 women using the Patch may get pregnant. The Patch is as effective as other forms of hormonal contraceptives including the pill. However, if the Patch is not used 100% correctly, 100% of the time the effectiveness of the Patch is greatly reduced.

It is also important to remember that while the Patch can be very effective at preventing unwanted pregnancy it offers no protection against STDs including HIV. If you think you are at risk of getting an STD you will need to take the necessary precautions to avoid both STDs and pregnancy.

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How Do I Use The Patch?

It is important to start your Patch on a convenient time and day that will be easy for you to remember to make sure you stay on an accurate regimen and maintain Patch effectiveness. You can start the Patch the same day you get it! This is called the quick start method. You could start the Patch the first Sunday after your period starts or the first day of your period. You can start it on any day you chose, just make sure it is a day you can easily remember and at a time that is convenient. When you first start the Patch, or if you forget to replace a Patch on time or a Patch falls off, you will need to use a back-up method of birth control (like condoms) for the next seven days to avoid an unwanted pregnancy.

The Patch can be placed on the upper arm, the back, buttock, or lower abdomen. Make sure the skin is clean and dry to the touch and avoid any oil or lotion in that area or the patch won't stick.

When you open the package the Patch has a clear plastic layer covering the sticky side of the Patch, carefully remove the clear plastic and place the Patch's sticky side firmly on the skin. Press down on the Patch with the palm of your hand for 10 seconds, making sure that the edges stick well, run your fingers around the edges of the Patch to make sure all of the edges are securely in place. Check the Patch regularly to make sure it is still sticking firmly.

Wear one Patch for seven days, then change that Patch with a new Patch. After three weeks and three Patches, no new Patch will be applied for seven days. During this time you will have your period. After the Patch free week, apply a new Patch on the same day of the month and the same time of day the first Patch was applied.

If you forget to apply a new Patch or if a Patch falls off, replace it immediately with a new Patch and use a back-up method of birth control (like condoms) for the next seven days just to be sure.

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How Do I Get One?

You will need a prescription to get the Patch. You can get the prescription by making an making an appointment with your local health department, reproductive health clinic, or family healthcare provider.

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Is the Patch The Right Method For Me?

The Patch is an easy and effective form of birth control. Aside from pregnancy prevention the Patch offers many other benefits. These benefits include...

- More regular, lighter and less painful periods

- Less acne

- Reduced risk of ectopic pregnancy

- Less likely to develop ovarian cysts or pelvic inflammatory disease

- Less risk of ovarian and uterine cancer

The Patch may not work well for everyone however. The Patch is only effective if it is used correctly. If you may have a problem using the Patch correctly you may want to consider a different method. The Patch is not intended for women who weigh more than 198 pounds as this reduced the effectiveness of the Patch. Other women who should not use the Patch include women who think they may be pregnant, women with blood clots, certain cancers, active liver disease, migraines with aura, current breast cancer or cancer of the uterus, cervix or vagina, women over 35 years of age who smoke, women with high blood pressure, history of stroke, or history of certain heart diseases.

If while using the Patch you experience severe abdominal pain, chest pain or shortness of breath, headaches, blurred vision, or sever leg or arm numbness, remove the Patch immediately and seek medical care. If while using the Patch you experience severe abdominal pain, chest pain or shortness of breath, headaches, blurred vision, or sever leg or arm numbness, remove the Patch immediately and seek medical care. If while using the Patch you experience severe abdominal pain, chest pain or shortness of breath, headaches, blurred vision, or sever leg or arm numbness, remove the Patch immediately and seek medical care.

Does the Patch Prevent STDs Too?

The Patch is great for preventing unintended pregnancies but it offers NO PROTECTION against sexually transmitted diseases! If you are at risk for contracting STDs, you will need to take the necessary precautions to avoid them as well as pregnancy. To learn more about STDs and how to prevent them click here

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Are There Any Side Effects Associated With This Method?

Many women experience no side effects when first starting the Patch. However, some women may experience headaches, nausea, breast tenderness, mood swings, and spotting for the first couple of months. These symptoms will stop with the continued use of the Patch. Some women may also experience a skin reaction, such as irritation, redness, or rash where the Patch is applied.

Weight gain is minimal on the Patch for most women. This is caused by an increase in appetite and can be avoided through proper diet and adequate exercise.

However, if a woman weighs greater than 198 pounds, there is a higher risk of pregnancy (8%) compared to other combined hormonal birth control methods

If you experience severe abdominal pain, chest pain, shortness of breath, severe headache, blurred vision, or swelling or severe pain in one leg, remove your patch and seek medical care.

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Transdermal: a method of delivering medicine that is absorbed through the skin
Synthetic: something that is produced artificially or manufactured
Ovulation: when a mature egg is released from the ovary into the fallopian tube and travels towards the uterus
Ectopic pregnancy: also called a tubal pregnancy, this is a pregnancy that is not in the uterus; usually in the fallopian tubes. A life-threatening condition for both mother and baby. Click here to see an image.
Severe Headache: this headache would be very painful and may be located on both sides of the head or only on one side. It may be throbbing or stabbing. Vision changes, nausea or vomiting may occur. Usually not relieved with aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil), or acetaminophen (Tylenol). May be a symptom of a medical emergency.
Severe Abdominal Pain: this pain, located in the lower abdomen, is stronger than normal menstrual pain and usually not relieved with ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol). May be a symptom of a medical emergency. On a pain scale of 0-10, with 10 being the worst pain, a person would rate severe pain in the 8-10 category.
Spotting: menstrual blood that is very small in amount, ranging from a dime to quarter size. Spotting may occur before or after normal menstrual flow which is normal or may happen between periods which could be abnormal