When we talk about female contraception, all we can think of is popping a few pills or using emergency contraception when the condom broke or when our partners refused to wear one. There are times when you missed taking one pill and then took in all the guilt. But we are here to tell you that it’s okay and there are other options! Maybe you can try them and see if it suits you?
Patch, a patch, a Contraceptive Patch!
Contraceptive Patches look just like a band-aid. Although they are square shaped sticky patches that release hormones into your body through the skin to prevent pregnancy. They are small, effective and unlike ingesting birth control pills, they simply stay on your skin and do their job. What more do we want? It’s an easy and hassle-free method of birth control if used properly. The worry that you may forget to take the dosage of birth control pills can be done away with. Just a few things to keep in mind. Here we answer a few questions of this unique way of birth control!
- So How Does the Contraceptive Patch Really Work?
As we commonly know, pregnancy can be prevented at two stages. The first stage includes controlling the release of eggs from the ovaries. The patch contains two hormones namely, estrogen and progestin which are absorbed through the skin. They reach the pituitary gland (also known as hormone controlling gland or master gland) which helps prevent the release of eggs.
The second stage includes precluding the sperm to fertilise the egg. The patch brings about modification in the cervical mucus. When the composition of the mucus is changed, the sperm finds it difficult to reach the egg. The patch also thins the lining of the uterus so that fertilised egg can’t implant itself. This way Patches leave no room and ensure that you aren’t pregnant!
- When should the Patch be applied to the body?
The major reason why birth control pills fail is because of its inconsistent use. Patches overcome this failure easily. The first patch is to be used for a week on the first day of the menstrual cycle and then replaced by a new patch next week on the same day. For example, if you apply the patch on a Saturday, the next patch is to be replaced on next Saturday. This is to be done for the next three weeks. The fourth week is a patch free week. This is how you can enjoy having sex with your partner for the entire month!
- Where should the Patch be applied to the body?
The preferable body parts are the buttocks, abdomen, upper outer arm and upper back. However, the patch should not be applied to the breast skin. It is advisable to place the patch in a different area of the aforementioned areas from the previous week to minimize irritation. If the sticky adhesive of the patch is gone and refuses to stick to the skin, place a new patch but don’t remove and reuse the older patch.
There is no problem participating in day to day activities like swimming, jogging, exercise or even bathing with the patch on. Don’t try to change the size by trimming it. The patch should not be applied on makeup, creams, lotion and so on. A clear and dry skin is needed so that the skin can absorb the hormones effectively.
- What are the side effects of using the Patch?
Since the patch works similarly as the birth control pill, the side effects are also somewhat the same. However, these side effects are mild and tend to go away within 2-3 months with the constant use of the patch once the body recognizes the right amount of estrogen supply needed.
Some side effects to be kept in mind include irregular menstruation, frequent mood changes with headaches and dizziness, skin irritations in the areas where patch has been applied.
- Who should not use the Patch?
The patch cannot be used by women who have high blood pressure, acute migraine attacks or have blood clot problems. The patch is not so effective for women above the weight of 90 kilograms. The women who use patches are advised not to smoke as there is an increase in the intensity and frequency of side effects such as headaches and irregular periods.
- Does the Patch help prevent STDs?
The answer is an emphatic no! The couple should use condoms with the contraceptive patch to prevent sexually transmitted diseases.
- Where can the Patch be purchased?
The patch is always prescribed by medical health professionals. They will ask questions about your medical history, menstrual cycle and also do a physical exam to check the blood pressure. Unfortunately, in India the availability of these patches is a question mark, be it private or public health sector. Since there is less awareness about these patches, no one really uses it and doctors don’t prescribe it. Patches came into existence in the USA and were soon adopted in the European nations as well. Women in these countries have shown the highest compliance rate and satisfaction, which makes us wonder why has India not adopted this contraceptive measure? Or atleast made aware of?
For those who are not in the risk groups, patches by far have been the most effective way of birth control. Patches are easy to track and the side effects are very mild. All in all, they are affordable, comfortable and one of the most unique forms of birth control out in the market. So when are we going to demand that we too have access to them in India?
About the Author: Vidhi Gada
She is a 4th-year law student from ILS Law College, Pune, who firmly believes the law can be used as a weapon of change in our country and thus began her journey in the field of law. Apart from trying her best to be updated with all the legislations, her interests lie in Human Rights & Intellectual Property Rights. The best way to connect with her is to suggest a song that sets her mood and also, dogs. No! Kidding, she loves all the animals! She really likes dancing, writing and making puns!
Connect with us on our social media pages to get updated about Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights.