If you are looking into a lower-maintenance form of birth control, you may be considering using the “patch.” Learning more about the patch and your risk of pregnancy can help you in making a decision. A birth control patch is a hormonal form of contraception that a woman usually places directly on her skin. A prescription may be required in order to obtain it. And you may need to wear the patch for one week at a time on a specific part of your body. As with any form of contraception, it should be noted that the birth control patch is not 100% effective. It’s beneficial to take some time to understand how it works. So, can you still get pregnant if you use the birth control patch?
A variety of circumstances can reduce a birth control method’s ability to prevent an unexpected pregnancy. The patch is typically not an exception. If you’ve begun to notice symptoms of pregnancy, then Avenue Women’s Center can offer you the chance to take a free, medical-grade pregnancy test to confirm your suspicions. Our tests are accurate just ten days after possible conception. After finding out your results, our expert staff can discuss contraceptives, pregnancy, and your options during a private consultation appointment. All of our services are confidential and available to you at no cost.
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How Does the Patch Work to Prevent Getting Pregnant?
Finding a form of contraception that works for you can be a challenging task. Some women are uncomfortable with certain methods. Learning more about how the patch works can help you better understand the process behind it. And see if there are alternative methods you may want to discuss with your doctor.
Generally, the birth control patch reduces the chances of an unexpected pregnancy by preventing an egg from being released into your ovaries. It may also thicken your cervical mucus to keep sperm from reaching an egg. Thirdly, the patch may alter the lining of your uterus to protect against pregnancy.
Are There Any Side Effects Associated With the Birth Control Patch?
In addition to not offering protection against sexually transmitted diseases or infections, the patch can lead to increased exposure to estrogen. This can potentially cause blood clots and other health complications. Some of the patch’s side effects are similar to the ones experienced by women who may take other hormonal contraceptives. These may include skin irritation, headaches, moderate weight gain, and breast tenderness.
Women who smoke or have the following conditions are generally not eligible to use the patch:
- High blood pressure
- Breast or uterine cancer
- A history of blood clots
- A history of heart attack or stroke
- Are allergic to hormones
- Liver disease
- Unexplained vaginal bleeding.
Depression, chest pains, swelling, and irregular vaginal bleed are possible side effects. Contact a healthcare provider right away if you begin to experience any of them.
How Effective Is the Birth Control Patch?
When used correctly and consistently, the patch can have a failure rate of less than 1%. However, it usually needs to be replaced once a week. You may need this is done on the same day each week for three weeks in a row. If the patch comes off while you’re wearing it and you do not notice within 24 hours, you may need to consider a backup form of contraception if you’re planning to engage in sexual intercourse.
Other factors can decrease the effectiveness of the patch. It may not work for you if you’re taking antibiotics or medication for fungal infections or seizures. Weight can also interfere with the patch’s ability to protect you against an unexpected pregnancy. Women who weigh 189 pounds or more may need to consider an alternative form of birth control.
If you suspect you may be pregnant despite having worn the birth control patch, you can take a test through your doctor or a first-step options clinic. Understandably, having your preferred form of contraception fail can be stressful. But asking the right questions and gathering information can help you create a list of your options.
If you’re concerned about a possible pregnancy on the birth control patch, it’s only natural that you may be looking for answers to some of your questions. Avenue Women’s Center provides unexpected pregnancy support at each of our six locations in DuPage County. We’re here to provide you with free services and reliable information about birth control methods and your three pregnancy options.
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- American Pregnancy Association. Birth Control Patch. Retrieved from: https://americanpregnancy.org/preventing-pregnancy/birth-control-patch/
- Mayo Clinic. (2019, January). Birth Control Patch. Retrieved from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/birth-control-patch/about/pac-20384553
Reviewed by Patricia Kuenzi, APN-CNP, MSN, ANP, PNP.
The information provided here is general in nature. It is not a substitute for a consultation with a medical professional. Before any medical procedure, it is imperative that you discuss your personal medical history, risks, and concerns with your doctor. If you have questions during or after a procedure, your doctor should be immediately contacted. Avenue Women’s Center is not an emergency center. If you are experiencing severe symptoms, such as bleeding and/or pain, seek immediate medical attention. Contact your physician, go to an emergency room, or call 911.