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HealthWatch: The Low-Dose Birth Control Patch

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A new low-dose birth control patch is in clinical trials, and its lower estrogen levels could decrease the risk of side effects found in the current birth control patch.

A new low-dose birth control patch is in clinical trials, and its lower estrogen levels could decrease the risk of side effects found in the current birth control patch.

CBS New York (con't)

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NEW YORK (CBS 2) — It’s news many women have been waiting to hear.

Researchers are now testing a new, potentially safer way to prevent pregnancies, reports CBS 2’s Dr. Holly Phillips.

Krystal Miranda is a proud young mother, but at 22 years old, her life is so hectic at home and work that she doesn’t want to expand her family anytime soon.

“I’m not ready to have another child yet,” Miranda said. “I had my daughter unexpectedly. I’d rather be prepared the next time I do have a pregnancy.”

The birth control pill is the most popular form of contraception, taken by millions of women, but remembering to take a daily pill can be difficult for some.

“If you start missing pills, delayed in taking pills, hormone levels are affected and what can happen is side effects, such as breakthrough bleeding, may occur,” OB-GYN Dr. Gene Andruczyk said. “If you miss a few pills, obviously, a breakthrough ovulation could occur, and a woman may become pregnant.”

The birth control patch is another option, but many experts believe there’s a need for a better version. The patch currently on the market exposes women to 60 percent more estrogen than the pill, and that could increase the risk of side effects, including everything from weight gain to blood clots.

Now, the race is on to develop a low-dose patch.

“The lower the dose, the potential for side effects is decreased, so lower is better,” Dr. Andruczyk said.

The low-dose patch is made of a flexible material. The medication in the patch lasts for a week, so the maker – A-Gile Therapeutics – says it needs to be changed three times each month.

“Their studies have indicated that their release of hormones, with their transdermal delivery system, is equivalent to the low-dose pills,” Dr. Andruczyk said.

Miranda is testing one, and she’s loved the results.

“It was easy and convenient versus the pill, and I like the way it affected me,” Miranda said. “I just stick it on, and I just go.”

The low-dose patch is currently in phase three clinical trials. It’s being tested on women between the ages of 18 and 45 who don’t smoke. For more information on the patch, click here.

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