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Birth control patch risks might outweigh rewards

Nov 21, 2005 |

Ortho Evra is a popular medical contraceptive choice among college women because it is quick and easy -- just apply a small patch on the skin once a week. But according to a recently released warning from creator Johnson & Johnson, the risks may outweigh the rewards.

According to the warning, women will be exposed to much higher amounts of estrogen than they normally would if they were using a birth-control pill.

This increased level of estrogen puts users at a much greater risk for blood clots and other unattractive side effects.

"I am no longer taking Ortho Evra due to the recently publicized dangers about using the product," Natalie Doe, a Centennial partner and recent computer science graduate, said.

Other women seem to be following suit, according to Doe.

"When I went to speak with my doctor about making a change, she mentioned that the previous day, she had several 'Ortho Evra talks,'" Doe said.

According to Ortho Evra's Web site, it "is a safe and effective method for many women when used according to the product label. Some women should not use Ortho Evra, including women who smoke and those with a history of blood clots, heart attack or stroke."

Katie Anthony, a junior in business management, said although "the report is scary-sounding," she plans to continue use of the product.

"I see my doctor every year and he told me before I went on it about the side effects," Anthony said. "I haven't had any problems with it so far."

Warnings from manufacturers come after released reports that patch users suffer blood clots something they are three times less likely to endure if they were to ingest a contraceptive method orally.

The risks are increased because if estrogen is digested, about half of it is lost in the digestive tract.

With Ortho Evra, it is absorbed directly into the bloodstream through the skin.

Doe said her doctor advised her to switch to a generic birth-control pill, which was found to have the "least amount of side effects."

This was an important factor in Doe's decision because she said, "drugs are not supposed to cause worse side effects than what they are taken for."

"It's just not worth it," Doe said.

Both Doe and Anthony said they were drawn to Ortho Evra above other contraceptive medications because of the simplicity.

Doctors recommended that oral contraceptive medications are taken at the same time each day something that may be difficult with the spontaneous schedules of college-aged students.

Doe said she thought the product was "worry-free," but that after researching the risks involved, she thinks "the concerns are warranted."

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