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Contraceptive Patch

Research methodology developed in 2000 by Dr. Roger Pierson, a University of Saskatchewan professor of obstetrics and gynecology, helped establish the contraceptive patch as a more effective means of birth control than the contraceptive pill. Johnson and Johnson now market the patch under the Ortho Erva brand name. Dr. Pierson’s methodology was subsequently adopted as a standard for measuring birth control effectiveness in Europe and the United States. There were two key phases of the testing: comparing the effectiveness of the patch with traditional oral contraceptives, and determining the most effective size and dose. A problem with oral contraceptives is that the release of hormones fluctuates dramatically throughout the day; by comparison, the patch releases a steady flow of hormones throughout the entire week. Because the hormone dose is constant, follicle growth in the ovaries is halted much sooner; while follicles may be reduced to 17 mm or more with some pills, with the contraceptive patch they are inhibited to a size of only 6 mm, making the release of an egg that much more unlikely. Another problem with the pill is that is must be taken every day at the same time; unlike oral contraceptives, the patch does not require daily attention, and is simply placed on the body once a week.

Joe Ralko

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