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Birth Control Hormonal Methods (cont.)

Birth Control Patch

New in the United States is a transdermal patch (worn on the skin) that releases estrogen and progesterone directly into the skin (brand name, Ortho Evra). Each patch contains a one-week supply of hormones. It releases a low daily dose equivalent to the lowest-dose oral contraceptive. The birth control patch is easy for women to use because it works for a week, and women do not have to remember a pill every day. A new patch is applied every week for three weeks, and a patch is not worn during the fourth week when you have a menstrual period. It is available by prescription.

Side effects for the birth control patch are similar to those experienced by women using oral contraceptives. However, the patch may cause skin irritation where it is placed (near the bikini line, on the buttocks, or upper body). Sometimes, it may come off and not be noticed, for example, in the shower, and it will become less efficient. In August 2002, the FDA listed a failure rate for the patch of one pregnancy per 100 women per year, similar to that of other combination methods. It may be less effective for women who weigh more than 198 pounds. The patch does not protect against STDs.

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