Contraceptive Pill and Patch
There are two main types of pill which vary in hormone content and the way they work. The most widely used is the combined pill which contains two hormones, oestrogen and progesterone. There are also pills which have progesterone only.
The main action of the hormones in the combined pill is to stop the ovary releasing an egg each month (ovulation). They also thicken the fluid (mucus) at the cervix so sperm cannot enter the womb, and alter the lining of the womb to make it less likely to accept a fertilised egg.
As with any contraceptive, its effectiveness depends on how well the instructions are followed. With perfect use, the combined pill is over 99% effective meaning that less than 1 woman out of 100 will become pregnant in a year. However, because many women occasionally forget to take the pill, the actual failure rates vary and can be up to 8%.
The patch contains the same hormones as the pill, estrogen and progestin. You stick it on your skin in of these areas:
- Upper arm
- Lower abdomen
After the patch is in place, it delivers a steady dose of hormones into your bloodstream.
The patch works just like the pill. The hormones prevent an egg from being released and change both the cervical mucus and uterine lining. You only need to apply it once per week unlike the pill, which you take every day. After three weeks, or 21 days, of use, you remove the patch for one week.
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