Wednesday, March 3, 2010

No Babies: Insert Clever Patch Reference Here

Birth control patches are often referred to by their brand name, Ortho Evra. There is currently no generic version of the patch, nor will there be until Ortho Evra's patent expires in 2015. They require a prescription, and the per-month cost for the patch is between $15-$50.

The patch delivers both estrogen and progestin (the standard birth control hormones) through the skin. These hormones prevent ovulation, make the uterus inhospitable, and thicken cervical mucus, like other hormonal birth control methods. The patch is placed on the skin of the arm, hip, bum or shoulder once a week for 3 weeks out of the month. The 4th week, no patch is used.

Patches: not just for pirates anymore!

It's as effective as the Pill, meaning that less than 1 out of 100 women will get pregnant if the patch is used correctly. There is some evidence that it's less effective in women who weigh more than 198 pounds, but not universally. More voluptuous ladies should discuss this with their health provider person. All ladies should discuss any other medications they're taking, including over-the-counter and natural ones!

As far as safety goes. . .there are some concerns. There's a whole group of ladies who shouldn't use the patch at all, including anyone with any kind of heart or liver problems. In 2008, the FDA changed the prescribing information for the patch to include results from a study showing an increased risk of serious blood clots in young women. However, the FDA does still consider Ortho Evra a safe and effective medication.

Other side-effects include nausea, bleeding between periods and breast tenderness, similar to other hormonal birth control. Some women also see changes in sexual desire and skin irritation at the site of the patch. Positive side effects include reduced risk for pelvic inflammatory disease and severe menstrual cramping, reduction in facial and body acne and even a reduced risk of certain uterine cancers.

I have never been able to even try the patch because 1) as I've mentioned, hormonal birth control makes me go crazy, and 2) I have the most sensitive skin on the planet and would undoubtedly get some kind of hideous rash from sticking drugs to it. Also, the concept of transdermal medication is a little creepy to me, no matter how irrational that may be, or how awesome and futuristic medication patches are.

If you have experience with the patch and are willing to share, please do so in the comments!!

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