Contraceptive patch available

A new form of contraceptive that doesn’t have to be remembered daily is now available through FAMU Health Services.

Ortho-Evra, from Ortho-McNeil, the creators of the pill that helps acne, now has an adhesive patch that works like the birth control pill.

The beige patch is a one and three-fourths inches square. Ortho-Evra is 99 percent effective against preventing pregnancy, according to the Ortho-McNeil’s Web site. Side effects are the same as the pill: headache, nausea, menstrual cramps, abdominal pain and upper respiratory infection. Because the hormone is released through the skin, irritation may occur, especially if the patch is always applied to the same area.

“I can’t believe that something I put on my skin will stop me from ovulating,” said Amber Hickson, 21, a fourth-year business student from Atlanta.

Shankar Shetty, director of Student Health Services, likens Ortho-Evra to the nicotine patch.

“I know it’s hard for some people to believe that birth control can work in a patch, but it releases hormones into the bloodstream just like the pill,” he said.

The patch can be placed on the back, buttocks, lower abdomen, or upper arm, but never on the breast to avoid hormonal imbalances, Shetty said. Like the pill, the patch makes the body think conception has already occurred and therefore doesn’t release eggs.

“If a student wants to use the patch all they have to do is request it,” Shetty said.

“Since the patch is not for everyone, she should have a complete physical and Pap smear to make sure she doesn’t have high blood pressure, diabetes, heart problems, blood clots or is already pregnant.”

The patch is available, by prescription, in the student health center for $19.50 for a one-month supply.

Despite the skepticism, the patch is gaining popularity, said Christine Gajda, director of External Affairs for Planned Parenthood, North Central Florida.

“There is always an acceptance curve, especially since it’s totally different from any contraceptive we’ve ever seen,” Gajda said.

“It’s like a little adhesive bandage without the pad in the middle.”

The patch is changed once a week for three weeks and then not worn during menstruation. It can be worn in water and during rigorous activity.

The convenience has a lot of students asking about it, Gajda said.

“Most students don’t have the same daily routine so it’s hard to remember the take the pill at the same time everyday,” Gajda said.

“And some college students are still afraid of needles so they are not interested in the shot. This is a great alternative.”

“Also, some students live with roommates and don’t want everyone to know they are on the pill,” Gajda added. “But if they don’t leave the pills out, they will forget to take them.

With more education and awareness, the patch will become more acceptable, Gajda said.

“The more options the better. It just depends on her lifestyle and comfort level.”