Beyond the Pill
The Latest in Birth Control Options
The Patch (Ortho Evra)
Whether you’ve recently had a baby or just want to put your fertility on hold for a while, birth control is a subject most women need to address at some time or other. With so many new options available, the task of choosing a method that’s best for you can be daunting.
Do you want a contraceptive that is temporary and easily reversible? Are you looking for something a little more permanent but you’re not quite ready to send your husband out for a vasectomy? Maybe you want a birth control method that is hormone-free and allows for spontaneity? Here are some of the newest options available.
Paper-thin, beige, and measuring just 2 inches by 2 inches, the patch emits the same hormones found in birth control pills and is also ninety-nine percent effective. The difference? You wear the patch on your body and only need to change it once a week rather than remember to take a pill daily. It can be worn on one of four areas of the body: the buttock, the outer arm, the upper torso (front or back, but not on the breast), or the lower abdomen. It is worn continuously for three weeks and is removed the fourth week, during your period. It’s recommended that the patch location be switched each week to avoid irritating the skin.
According to Dr. Joyce Wilder, CNM, MSN, of OB-GYN Associates of Northern New York, the most common side effect of the patch is irritation from the adhesive backing. “Otherwise, side effects are similar to the pill,” says Wilder, “except there seems to be fewer gastrointestinal symptoms, since the drug doesn’t pass through the stomach.” Wilder does stress that women who smoke or are over 200 pounds should not use the patch.
Patches are currently used less than they used to be because recent evidence showed a slight increase in the chance of a blood clot from their use. In certain situations, they may still be the best birth control method for a particular person, so discussing all the alternatives with your practitioner is a must.
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