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Forget the daily pill. The birth control patch in Singapore is something you won’t forget.
Reviewed by Dr Bosty Chan, MBChB, MRCS
Birth control patches or contraceptive patches are a highly effective form of combined hormonal contraceptive method. They contain a combination of two hormones: estrogen and progestin. A birth control patch is a safe and reliable way to prevent pregnancy for most women.
Different names of the same product
In Singapore, Evra is the only brand of birth control patch registered with the HSA.
It is the first birth control patch to come onto the market in the United States and was first approved by the FDA in 2001.
You may have come across the brand Ortho Evra, it is essentially the same product as Evra, marketed by the same company under a different brand name in the United States.
In the United States, Ortho Evra has been discontinued due to the availability of generic versions of the birth control patch, namely: Xulane (FDA-approved in 2014) and Zafemy (FDA-approved in 2021).
Evra contains ethinyl estradiol (the estrogen component) and norelgestromin (the progestin component).
The patch is made up of three layers: the outer layer is water-resistant and protects the underlying layer from the environment; the middle layer is medicated with the two hormones: ethinyl estradiol and norelgestromin, and the inner layer is a clear release liner that is removed before patch application.
Weekly patch application
A birth control patch is applied and changed once per week for three weeks followed by one patch-free week.
The patch should always be applied or changed on the same day of the week.
Failing to change a birth control patch at the appropriate time can result in an unplanned pregnancy.
Many strategies can be used to ensure appropriate weekly changes of a birth control patch. For example, weekly calendar reminders can be set on your smartphone.
Where to apply?
A birth control patch can be applied to the abdomen, buttock or upper torso. The breast area should be avoided as it can cause breast tenderness due to the high concentration of estrogen in the patch.
Evra, the birth control patch available in Singapore, can also be applied to the upper outer arm. A different body area should be used each time a new patch is applied and only one patch should be worn at a time. Avoid the use of lotions or occlusive dressings (e.g. bandages) on the area where the patch is applied.
Birth control patches are great for active women
If you are a sports enthusiast, or are simply worried about the patch detaching due to the hot and humid climate that we are living in, you would be interested to know that the patch is designed to be really, really sticky.
Various studies have been done to assess the adhesive reliability of the birth control patch, users of the patch were subjected to various conditions (for example, use of a sauna, immersion in a whirlpool bath, use of a treadmill followed by showering etc).
Thankfully, birth control patches have proven to be quite reliable in all these circumstances.
Approximately 2% of birth control patches required replacement for complete detachment and 3% of birth control patches became partially attached in the studies.
It was also found that living in a warm, humid climate did not increase the risk of patch detachment. The stickiness of the patch was also not adversely affected by a vigorous, athletic lifestyle or swimming.
Do not use the tapes or plasters to keep the patch attached.
Always discuss your lifestyle needs with your doctor, here at Dame, we will provide detailed advice on what to do in the unlikely occasion the patch detaches – it always pays well to be prepared.
Quick return of fertility
One benefit of birth control patches like Evra is how quickly you can change your mind should you wish to start planning for pregnancy.
Upon removing the patch, blood levels of both hormones reach very low to non-measurable levels within three days.
Individuals who desire to conceive may attempt to do so as soon as they are ready after patch discontinuation. Always speak to your doctor about your concerns.
Combined hormonal contraceptive methods
Combined hormonal contraceptive methods in the form of an oral birth control pill, birth control patch and vaginal ring offer highly effective and reversible contraception. They have a similar contraceptive mechanism – the hormone combination reduces the risk of pregnancy by:
- Preventing ovulation
This means your body does not produce eggs for the sperm to fertilise.
- Keeping the mucus in the cervix thick
This makes it harder for sperm to move to meet the egg to fertilise it.
- Keeping the lining of the uterus thin
This makes it difficult for a fertilized egg to continue to develop in the body.
The benefits and risks of a birth control patch are generally similar to the oral estrogen-progestin pills and the contraceptive vaginal ring.
However, the birth control patch offers several differences which may influence your consideration in the selection of a suitable contraceptive method.
Birth control patch vs birth control pills
In terms of effectiveness, the birth control patch is highly effective and as effective as oral combined hormonal contraceptives.
Potential benefits of birth control patches:
- A new patch is replaced on a weekly basis compared to taking a pill on a daily basis. Studies have found that this appears to result in improved adherence to the birth control regime.
- A birth control patch is useful if you have difficulty swallowing pills.
Constant hormonal exposure
- A birth control patch delivers the two hormones directly into the bloodstream; unlike the birth control pill, the hormones do not need to go through the whole process of being broken down in the body.
- Simply put, the patch delivers a more constant level of hormones in the body compared to the pill. It could possibly result in fewer hormonal related side effects compared to the pill.
Potential benefits of birth control pills
- Pills can be taken privately. A visible patch could draw unwanted attention.
Possibility of patch detachment
- Pills do not detach
Read our guide to starting birth control pills in Singapore here.
Birth control patch vs contraceptive vaginal ring
Both methods offer weekly dosing and a non-oral administration.
A birth control patch may be more appealing to individuals or their partners who find vaginal contraception unacceptable (for example, having to insert the ring into the vagina, increased vaginal discharge or simply feeling the presence of the ring during intercourse).
Ultimately, knowing the different types of contraceptive options available is important. It helps you make the best decision for your personal health and lifestyle needs. A birth control patch is as effective as the pill and is a comparable alternative that can be considered.
Any doubts? Queries? Clarifications required? Speak with our doctors at thedame.sg, we are here to help you make the best decision for you.
At Dame, we believe in choice. We carry the largest selection of birth control methods that can be readily access through our online platform. With just a few clicks, you can get a professional consult with our experts, and the medications can be shipped discreetly to you.
There is even an option for subscription, if you are looking to commit to something regular and fuss free.