The contraceptive patch is another form of hormonal contraception, using both oestrogen and progestogen to help protect women against pregnancy. Using the same hormones as the combined contraceptive pill, the patch is aimed at women who find it inconvenient to take a pill every day, or who experience negative side effects when taking oral contraception.
The contraceptive patch is just as effective as the combined pill, and works in the same way, but it only needs to be replaced once a week. It allows a steady dose of hormones to be released into your bloodstream, through your skin, reducing the risk of negative side effects associated with changing cyclic mood swings. This makes it one of the most convenient, effective ways to prevent pregnancy.
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By mid-2000s, one type of contraceptive patch, called Evra, became available for women in Europe. It remains the only contraceptive that needs to be replaced weekly to offer over 99% protection from pregnancy.
Evra is classed as a long-acting reversible contraceptive because its effects last longer than a few days, but fertility is restored within weeks of stopping use. Many women find this to be a convenient birth control method because they don't have to think about it every day.
With the contraceptive patch you can benefit from the same level of protection as the combined pill because it works in exactly the same way, but you don't have to remember to take a pill every single day. It's handy for women who don't have regular routines, women who struggle to remember to take pills, and those who just don't want to think about contraception all the time.
Evra has several benefits. Hormones are administered to the body through a transdermal contraceptive patch. Because nothing has to be digested, you won’t feel nauseous when using the contraceptive patch. This also means it’s effective if you suffer from vomiting or diarrhoea too, which can’t be said of the combined pill.
The patch is less effective in women who weigh more than 14 stone, or 198lbs.
The contraceptive patch is also known to cause a few unique side effects, such as skin irritation where the patch is in contact with your skin or skin discolouration.
Other side effects that are caused by the hormones released by the Evra patch include thrush, mood changes, dizziness, acne, tiredness and weight gain. Other side effects, which range from uncommon to very rare, include an increased level of fats in the blood, uncontrollable emotions, vaginal dryness, abnormal crying and aggression.
It may not be safe for you to use Evra if you smoking, because there's an increased risk that it could damage your heart. Also, if you're over 35, have blood problems or a history of epilepsy, migraines or undiagnosed vaginal bleeding it may not be a safe contraceptive for you.
Your doctor may prescribe a progestogen-only pill (the mini pill) instead, if any of these options apply to you.