All you need to know about the birth control patch and mood swings
Otherwise known as the birth control patch, Ortho Evra requires changing once a week. It’s a one-inch square bandage that you wear on your butt, stomach, upper outer arm, or upper torso. You wear one weekly for three weeks at a time. It releases hormones similar to estrogen and progesterone, and they pass through your skin. If used as directed Ortho Evra has greater than 90% effectiveness.
Many women are drawn to the birth control patch because it's simple and convenient. Ortho Evra not only blocks conception; it also makes your periods briefer and lighter. You may get fewer zits on it, and you may feel eased menstrual cramping. Other benefits of birth control in general include:
- Reduced risk of certain cancers, such as endometrial and ovarian
- Fewer complications from anemia (birth control boosts iron levels)
- Increased vaginal lubrication for more pleasurable sex
Conceptive patch drawbacks
Though undoubtedly convenient, a conceptive patch may cause mood swings, because they cause your hormones to fluctuate. This may also cause you to feel more on edge than usual. You may also feel more anxious or depressed than normal. These symptoms tend to disappear after a few cycles of using the patch. But if you deal with anxiety or depression already, the effects of the patch can intensify these feelings.
Other possible side effects of the patch include:
- Breast tenderness
- Increased appetite
- Greater risk of yeast infection
- Blood clots
- Dampened sex drive
6 ways to boost your mood as you adjust
You can do a lot to ease the emotional and physical effects of a birth control patch as you get used to it. Specifically, be sure to:
1. Take turmeric
This ancient healing spice produces large antidepressant effects. You can make your own turmeric wellness shot by combining half a teaspoon of turmeric and black pepper with some cold water. You can also take turmeric supplements if you'd rather.
2. Take a high-EPA, low-DHA supplement
EPAs found in fatty acids help to boost mood so much that research has found it to be just as effective as natural antidepressants. You should aim to take between 1,000 and 2,000 mg of EPA per day to help lessen the effects of anxiety and depression.
3. Practice deep breathing
Research shows that practicing deep breathing exercises daily, such as yogic breathing, is nearly as effective as prescription antidepressants. Deep breathing can also reduce stress hormone levels in just one single session. If you're unfamiliar with yogic breathing, you should try a technique called "diaphragmatic breathing," in which you engage your diaphragm at the base of your lungs and abdominal muscles to empty the lungs.
4. Eat foods rich in vitamin B9
Vitamin B9, otherwise known as folate, plays a large role in mood regulation, specifically boosting the feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin. Rather than relying on supplements, vitamin B9 is found in a wide variety of vegetables and beans, such as spinach, Brussels sprouts, kale, romaine, mushrooms, asparagus, bananas, melons, broccoli, lentils, black beans, and kidney beans.
Those who exercise on a regular basis produce almost half as less cortisol as those who don't exercise regularly. Though many women cite lack of time as the number one barrier to exercise, even just engaging in 10 minutes of traditional interval training per day can lift your spirits.
6. Avoid refined sugars
Refined sugars found in simple carbohydrates spike your blood sugar levels as well as your mood before both crash. This results in mood instability. One way to stabilize your mood, though, is to primarily eat unprocessed foods that contain natural, rather than added, sugars. Examples include whole grains and fruits.
"Patched" up in no time
You can ease mood swings brought on by a birth control patch with diet and exercise. After all, with birth control it should be your sex life that's swinging, not your mood.
- "5 Subtle Signs Your Birth Control Isn't Working the Way It Should," Bustle, December 1, 2015.
- "Does Some Birth Control Raise Depression Risk? That's Complicated," NPR, October 9, 2016.
- "Does the Pill Really Cause Depression?," Women's Health, October 2, 2013.
- "Evra Patch and Depression," UK Health Centre, [Date unknown].