Using the Ortho Evra Patch for Effective Birth Control
The contraceptive patch is a form of birth control which is worn something like a Band-Aid to keep a woman from getting pregnant. The brand name of contraceptive patch currently marketed is Ortho Evra, and contains both estrogen and progestin. The Ortho Evra patch releases hormones slowly into a woman's bloodstream through the skin. The average amount of estrogen delivered through the skin produces estrogen exposure that is a bit higher than taking a birth control pill which contains as much as 35 micrograms of estrogen.
Milder side effects of the patch are similar to those of the pill, such as tender or full breasts, nausea, rash, mood swings and a possible decrease in sex drive as well as changes (either lighter or heavier) in monthly menstrual bleeding. Most of these minor side effects will go away within one to three months, however if they don't, you should consult your physician. More serious side effects can include severe headache, chest pain, severe abdominal pain, dizziness, numbness in the arms or legs, eye problems or bad leg pain. Very few women experience the more severe side effects of the Ortho Evra patch, however if you do, you may need to find another form of birth control. There are certain medicines that prevent the patch from working as well, so make sure if you are prescribed a medicine for a health issue that your health care provider is aware you are using the patch. You may need to use back up birth control during the time you are on the medication.
There are several major advantages of the Ortho Evra patch including its high rate of efficiency in preventing pregnancy. A woman doesn't have to remember to take a pill every day with the patch, however she does have to remember to change it each week on a regular schedule. Like the pill, the patch does not interrupt sex, and is easy to use. Most women have noted that the patch lessens the severity of acne, and tends to make periods lighter with fewer cramps. Studies have shown the patch to help protect against cancer of the uterus and ovaries.
When discussing birth control, a perfect user is considered to be one who uses their chosen method of birth control correctly 100% of the time, while a "typical" user is considered to be a woman who uses the chosen birth control method correctly only some of the time. With perfect use, the Ortho Evra patch is considered to be 99.7% effective, however with the more typical use the effectiveness of the patch is considered to be about 92% effective. The patch may not be as effective in women who weigh 198 pounds or more.
While the patch does work well to prevent pregnancy, it does not protect against HIV or other STDs. Each Ortho Evra patch works for one week, therefore you wear one patch per week for three weeks, then wear no patch at all for the fourth week, during which you should get your monthly period. Should you engage in any type of sexual activity which involves even the slightest chance of contracting an STD, you should use a condom in addition to the Ortho Evra patch. You must change your patch on the same day every week; remove the old patch prior to applying the new patch and change locations from week to week. You should not use the patch if you currently smoke cigarettes or are over the age of 35. If you have had a heart attack or stroke, blood clots in the legs or chest pain don't use Ortho Evra. Additionally, if you have ever had a cancer scare, whether of the breast, cervix, uterus or vagina, you should not use the patch. If you suspect you might be pregnant, don't use the patch, and if you have diabetes, or severe high blood pressure, you will likely need to find an alternate form of birth control. The patch can be a good form of birth control for many women, but requires careful discussion with your health care provider.