What is the Birth Control Patch and How Does It Work?

There are many different types of birth control available to women today. A large selection of birth control options are hormonal – they contain hormones that are naturally occurring in our bodies like estrogens and/or progestins to prevent pregnancy. One such hormonal birth control option is the birth control patch. In Canada, this patch continually releases ethinyl estrogen and norelgestromin (a type of progestin) into your skin for 24h. The hormones work to prevent ovulation so there is no egg available to fertilize and to make it harder for sperm to reach the egg by thickening the cervical mucus. 


What is the Birth Control Patch Used For?

The main reason why individuals use the birth control patch is to prevent pregnancy. However, others may use the patch for other reasons including irregular cycles, excessive menstrual blood loss, painful periods, acne, endometriosis and more. 

Some individuals find it very hard to remember to take the traditional birth control pill everyday so the patch is a welcome alternative as it only has to be changed once every week. It can also be a suitable alternative for women who have issues swallowing pills. 


How Effective is the Birth Control Patch? 

As long as individuals wear the patch correctly and change it as directed, it has been shown to be very effective in preventing pregnancy. However, if individuals are late changing the patches or leave it off for long durations, they are significantly increasing the risk of unintended pregnancy. There is no significant difference in effectiveness of the birth control patch versus the traditional oral birth control pill if used correctly.


What are the Risks Associated With Using the Birth Control Patch? 

Many of the risks associated with the birth control patch are similar to risk associated with other hormonal birth control options such as:

    • headaches
    • nausea
    • breast tenderness
    • menstrual cramps 
    • vaginal bleeding or spotting 

Rarely, it may be associated with blood clots or certain types of cancers. 

Some side effects specific to the transdermal patch form of birth control include application site reactions and irritation. 


How To Use the Birth Control Patch?

When starting the birth control patch, your doctor will discuss an appropriate start date for you – your choice of start date will impact if and how long you may need to use back up contraception for, if you are using it to prevent pregnancy. 

The patch should only be applied to certain parts of your body such as: your buttocks, lower abdomen and upper outer arms – it should not be applied to your breasts. The application site skin should be clean, intact and dry. To avoid skin irritation, the specific application site should be rotated each time.

The patch is quite discreet and can be worn while showering and exercising. One the same day each week the old patch should be removed and a new patch should be applied – this is done for three weeks. The last week is a patch-free week. If you are late in applying a new patch, it is important to speak with your pharmacist or doctor so they can advise you on whether you need backup contraception. 


How Can I Get the Birth Control Patch? 

Do you think the birth control patch is right for you? Great! Before you can begin using it though a doctor needs to evaluate if it is a suitable option for you. There are certain populations of individuals who should not use the birth control patch. It is also important to let your doctor and pharmacist know if you are taking any other medications – some medications can interact with your birth control patch and render it ineffective. If the patch is an effective and safe option for you, your doctor will provide you with a prescription. 

Jill Health has a team of licensed medical professionals who are experts in birth control – talk to one today from the comfort of your home to see if the birth control patch is right for you. Additionally, once your treatment plan is finalized, the team at Jill health will ship your personalized treatment plan straight to your home!