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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Safer Sex & Birth Control » Scared of using the patch

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Author Topic: Scared of using the patch
ladymadonna
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I'm ready to start having sex with my boyfriend. We've been together for 10 months. It's the first time for both of us and we are worried about pregnancy and want to be very safe. I really hate taking tablets and know I can't take the pill everyday, also hate injections etc and so the best option is the patch. I've got a prescription from a few months ago but I haven't used them yet as I'm worried because:

- The first time the nurse took my blood pressure it was too high as I was ill that day so she wouldn't prescribe it, but the next time I went it was fine and she did. I'm worried I'll be ill/stressed etc and it will be too high and cause a problem.
- Side effects such as blood clots etc. I really hate taking medicine as I worry about side effects too much and usually avoid it if I can - but this case I can't!

I'm definitely ready for sex - I am getting very frustrated that we cant just get on with it because of my worrying! My boyfriend is being really supportive and telling me its okay and I can wait as long as I want to.

Also, is it okay to use the box of patches from a few months ago. I've opened it but haven't taken them out. Will this effect it?

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ladymadonna
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I should add that we want to use the patch and condoms together.
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Heather
Executive Director & Founder
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Cardiovascular risks with methods like the pill, patch or ring are generally about hereditary or lifestyle issues where those risks are already higher. Is there any history of cardiovascular problems in your family? Do you smoke or drink heavily?

Per being ill, you can get ill sometimes and the patch can still be safe. Being ill, in general, shouldn't elevate your blood pressure by much with most kinds of common illness. All the same, things like exercise can do that for short periods of time, and we know it's perfectly safe for users of these methods to be active.

Per the patches you have being from months ago, have you checked the expiry dates on them? If they are not past those dates, they're still fine to use.

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ladymadonna
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My grandfather died of a heart attack at a young age, and my grandmother of a stroke (at a much older age, around 80). I am often stressed because of university and other issues, have trouble sleeping etc. I don't smoke and don't drink often.

I have heard that the risks of blood clots are higher than the pill but haven't been able to find much information - is it a significant difference?

The expiry dates are fine, it sounds silly but I was worried as the box was open, but I am sure it's okay.

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ladymadonna
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(Although my grandfather was a smoker)
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Heather
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Having stokes in elderly years isn't what we're talking about here: talking more about heart disease well before someone is near the end of their life. Given your grandfather smoked, sounds like this isn't something you have to worry about per a family history, which your doctor also likely checked before prescribing the patch for you, too.

The risk of the patch are higher, but based on studies done and considered, it appears to be a slight difference, not anything of note. If and when a person wants these methods and seems at a strong risk for cardiovascular/thromboembolic risks, doctors will usually advise other methods. Screening a patient for safety of any medication is part of their job in prescribing.

Really, cardiovascular risks are mostly about your lifestyle choices. To keep them low, don't smoke, if you drink, keep in in moderation and work on managing stress well, and really, you should be just fine. This is something you also can always talk more with your healthcare provider about.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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ladymadonna
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Okay, thank you very much for your help, it has helped to put my mind at rest.

However, when it comes to putting it on, I get really anxious, feel sick etc, and I don't know if this will go away.

The doctor told me to start the patch on the first day of my period, but the documentation with it says you can start anytime - but wait 7 days before having sex. Is this correct, and is it better to wait longer than 7 days? E.g. 2 weeks?

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Heather
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It's ideal to start on or around day one of your period if you want to make a lot of spotting or breakthrough bleeding less likely in the first few months you use it. And if you want your withdrawal bleeds to happen on the same schedule your period has, taking it on that timeframe also helps a lot.

Do you have a sense of why you feel anxious and sick about this? Do you think that's about this method, any birth control method, or anxiety about sex you feel you might have the option to have now that you have a method?

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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ladymadonna
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I feel anxious about the risk - which I know is small, and when I think about it logically I realise this. But when it actually comes to putting it on the feelings of worry come back. Perhaps after this help it will be different next time I try. Thank you again.

I would love to have sex right now, but neither of us feel comfortable doing it just with condoms, so it's something I need to get over before we can get on with it.

My period is very erratic, would taking the patch settle it down - give it a schedule? Ideally I'd like to change the patch on a Saturday, if my period started on a Monday and I waited til the weekend to put it on, would the withdrawal bleed still happen at the right time? I'm getting slightly confused about this now!

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Heather
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You mean the health risks?

If so, do you think it might be helpful to do some reality checking about way bigger risks to your life and health you probably take every day? For instance, if you even just drive or get in cars you take WAY bigger risks all the time than this.

Often, combined hormonal contraceptives like the patch do tend to regulate vaginal bleeding. You don't technically have a period with those methods, but a withdrawal bleed, but when you use your method probably, that bleeding is highly likely to be pretty regular.

But we can't say exactly when it will occur no matter when you start the patch, since it's not something anything close to that exact. However, if you wanted almost a whole week after a period before starting, then again, you'd most likely be looking at more spotting in the first few months and a greater likliehood of more irregularity with bleeds for a bit.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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ladymadonna
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Sorry, yes, the health risk. I'm not used to taking medicines and I'm concerned about constantly putting something into my system that isn't supposed to be there. Although it is true - I'm sure I expose myself to greater risks in everyday life, but I suppose it's the fact that I'm knowingly doing it.

That makes sense. Should I wear a sanitary towel day-to-day to deal with the spotting or will it not be that bad?

Thanks again!

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Heather
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You'll see how it goes. Most typically, it's very light, intermittent spotting, and you may not even have that. It varies a lot from person to person.

The thing to know about prescribed medications is that a doctor will almost never give them if they are not, to their knowledge, safe for you. That;s about the ethics of medicine and them caring for you, but it's also about covering their own behinds. No one wants a malpractice suit or a dead patient, even just from a self-interest standpoint.

I've worked clinical before, and when it's a question, at all, if a medication is safe for someone, there are usually big conversations that happen among staff, tripe-checking of medical records, the works. It's clear from even the experience you had your healthcare provider is obviously very cautious and careful.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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ladymadonna
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Okay, thank you for your help, I feel better about the situation now and will try putting the patch on again when my period next comes.

Again, sorry for all the questions, should I wait 7 days even if I put the patch on on the first day of my period?

Thanks.

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Karybu
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Yes, you still need to wait at least 7 days even if you start on the first day of your period.

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"Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." -Arundhati Roy

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ladymadonna
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Thank you Karybu, and Heather for all your help [Smile]
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WesLuck
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I wish you the best too. [Smile]
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