Contraception
 
Contraceptive patch
 
What is it?
•    The contraceptive patch is a hormonal contraceptive method.
•    This small, beige patch is applied to a woman’s skin on her upper arm, torso, back or buttocks.

 
How does it work?
•    It prevents pregnancy by releasing hormones that are absorbed into the skin.  
•    These hormones prevent the ovaries from releasing an egg, thicken the cervical mucous, making it harder for sperm to get into the uterus, and thin the uterine lining, making it difficult for a fertilized egg to implant.
•    The patch must be prescribed by a physician. In Québec, it may be prescribed by a nurse for a period of six months in accordance with a collective prescription for hormonal contraception.
•    It is not necessarily recommended for teenagers.

 
How is it used?
•    One patch is worn each week for three weeks. It has to be changed on the same day each week. No patch is applied on week four.
•    The patch is applied to the skin, either on the upper arm, lower torso, upper back or buttocks, whatever is most comfortable.
•    Check each day that the patch is well adhered as it may come unstuck. If it comes off, apply a new one immediately. Change the patch on the scheduled day, as usual.

 
Advantages

•    It is an effective and reversible birth control method, i.e. after stopping its use, the woman quickly becomes fertile again.
•    Intercourse is possible at any time with no risk of pregnancy, which promotes spontaneity. However, you must remember to apply a new patch every seven days for three weeks, before the one patch-free week. The patch does not protect against the transmission of STIs or HIV.
•    The patch may regulate and lighten periods, and make them less painful.
•    There is less risk of forgetting this form of birth control than with the contraceptive Pill because it doesn't require taking a pill each day.
•    Its benefits are similar to those of the Pill.

 
Disadvantages
•    There may be some skin irritation where the patch is applied; this can be minimized by changing the location of the patch each week.
•    You may forget to apply a new patch after seven days.
•    The patch may come off.
•    The patch does not protect against STIs or HIV.
•    You need to have enough money to buy the patch each month.
•    The patch may cause side effects similar to those of the contraceptive Pill. The most frequent include: headache, vaginal discharge and breast sensitivity. If you experience any symptoms, consult your doctor.
•    The patch is often contraindicated for women who cannot take the Pill for medical reasons.
•    The effectiveness of the patch may be lowered when taken with certain medications or natural products. Consult your doctor or pharmacist.
•    Beware of cigarettes: Cigarettes and the contraceptive patch don’t mix (health risks).

 
Cost and effectiveness
•    Cost: $34 to $38 (covered by the RAMQ and private insurance)
•    Effectiveness: 98 to 99% when properly used
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