Monday, December 18

Birth Control Patch: The Patch of Death?

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A lot of different birth control devices have been created over the centuries and are now being marketed to the public.  All of them supposedly have been tested by the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) if it is safe to be marketed to and used by the public.  However there is an ongoing controversy regarding the birth control patch.

In the United States, a number of women in the San Francisco area have filed complaints about the adverse effects they experienced since they started using birth control patches.  A lot of these women have developed blood clots on different parts of their bodies, and a few women have died from complications brought about by this contraceptive patch.

The Birth Control Patch
The contraceptive patch is a transdermal patch attached to the skin that is used to release synthetic estrogen and progesterone hormones into the body to prevent pregnancy.  This means of contraception can only be acquired through a prescription and is acclaimed to be just as effective as the combined oral contraceptive pill.  At the moment, the only available brand of birth control patch is Ortho Evra.  It is informally referred to as “the Patch”.

Birth control patches work by releasing hormones into your system through your skin.  It prevents eggs from being released from the ovaries, it thickens the cervical mucus lining to prevent sperm from reaching the egg, and it changes the lining of the uterus to prevent implantation.  It is worn for one week at a time and it is placed directly on the skin of your abdomen, upper arm, upper torso, or buttocks.  It is replaced once a week on the same day each week for a three-week period.  The birth control patch is not worn during the fourth week to allow for the menstrual flow to occur.

Side Effects
Just like any other medication, it has side effects to go along with the benefits it provides its users.  Here are some of the noted side effects from using the birth control patch:
l    Skin irritation at the site of application
l    Headaches
l    Breast tenderness, swelling, pain
l    Irregular vaginal bleeding or spotting
l    Moderate weight gain
l    Nausea and vomiting
l    Bloating
l    Yeast infections
l    Depression

The scariest side effect of using a birth control patch is its thromboembolic risks.  All combined hormonal birth control products poses a really small increased risk of severe or fatal clot formation and migration (thromboembolism).  It has recently been documented that birth control patch users may double the increased risk of developing a non-fatal venous thromboembolism as compared to women who use oral contraceptive pills.  At present there have been a few reported cases of fatalities directly pointing to the birth control patches as primary cause of death.

A Cry For The User’s Safety
On November of 2006, a group of 40 women filed a lawsuit against the only that manufactures birth control patches, Ortho-McNeil.  They wanted the product to be pulled out from the market to protect other women who are not aware of the severity of its side effects.  The FDA said that any hormonal contraceptive may cause blood clot as estrogen is also responsible for blood coagulation, however too much blood clot may indeed lead to other medical complications which may end in fatality.  Because of  the piling complaints against Ortho-McNeil, they re-tested the product and re-hashed the product label, indicating that it may cause blood clotting.

Choosing the right contraceptive product is not as simple as going for the most convenient or the cheapest one your money can afford.  The first and most important factor that you should consider is your own health.  Using a birth control patch may be convenient for you, but in the long run, will you still find it convenient after you’ve experienced all its adverse effects?

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