The Birth Control Patch is also known as the Patch or “Evra” patch. A patch is worn on the skin (similar to a large band aid) for a week at a time for three weeks in a row. It sends hormones through the skin into the bloodstream to prevent pregnancy.
- decreased cramping and bleeding during periods
- regulates periods
- reliable, 99% effective (if used correctly)
- convenient – you only have to remember to change patch weekly
- Does not protect against STIs
- Some people don’t like that the patch can be seen on the body
- Can cause the skin to become temporarily irritated under the patch
How effective is the patch?
The patch is 99% effective at preventing pregnancy when used perfectly. To use the patch perfectly, a patch is applied on the same day of the week for 3 weeks in a row (21 days). During the fourth week, you do not wear a patch. Your period should come during this fourth week.
The patch does not protect against sexually transmitted infections. Using a condom with the patch helps to reduce the risk of STIs and offers more pregnancy protection.
How does the birth control patch work?
The birth control patch contains 2 different hormones (estrogen and progesterone) similar to the ones produced in your body. These hormones are absorbed through the skin and enter the bloodstream. These hormones work to prevent pregnancy in the same way as those in the birth control pill:
- Prevents the ovaries from releasing an egg (ovulation)
- Thins the lining of the uterus making it difficult for a fertilized egg to implant
- Thickens cervical mucus to block sperm from entering the uterus
You can continue to do all of the activities you normally do while using the patch. It has been extensively tested for use while bathing, swimming, showering, working out, etc.
How do I get the birth control patch?
Birth control patches are only available by prescription from a doctor or a nurse. The patch varies in cost depending on where you have your prescription filled. You don’t need a pelvic exam to get a patch prescription.
I have a package of patches, how do I start?
If you apply your patch on the first day of your period, you are protected right away against pregnancy. You may also do a “quick start” method which means you apply your patch as soon as it is prescribed, regardless of where you are in your cycle. With this quick start method, you should use a back-up method of birth control, such as condoms, for at least the first 7 days.
You must only wear one patch at a time; remember to remove the previous one!
How do I make sure I use the patch correctly?
- Wear the patch continuously for 7 days, three weeks in a row. You will always change your patch on the same day of the week you put your patch on (eg. if you started wearing your patch on a Monday, you would always change it on a Monday). After the three weeks of patches are finished, you will have a patch free week. You are still protected against pregnancy during this week as long as you have used the patch correctly before and apply your next patch when you are supposed to.
- When the fourth (patch free) week ends you will begin the patch cycle again by applying a new patch, even if you still have bleeding.
- Set up a weekly reminder on your phone through the alarm/calendar app or an app – it is a great way to help you remember to remove/apply your patch on the correct day of the week. You can also download free apps for this!
Where on my body can the patch be placed?
The patch can be applied to the following parts of the body:
- Buttocks, abdomen, upper torso (except the breasts) or arm.
- Do not place the patch on skin that is red, irritated or cut
- Apply to clean, dry skin only. The skin should be free from lotions, oils, cosmetics, powders, etc.
What are the side-effects, advantages, and risks to the birth control patch?
Possible side-effects are usually minor such as breast tenderness, headache, skin irritation, breakthrough bleeding. If you experience these, they usually disappear within 2-3 months. For most women, the contraceptive patch is safe, effective and convenient.
While there are some rare but serious risks associated with hormonal contraception, the risks are smaller than the health risks associated with pregnancy.
However, there are some women who may not be able to use the pill because of their health history. Our doctors can suggest alternative methods of birth control.
Danger signals for birth control patch users
Call your doctor or go to the nearest medical treatment centre immediately if you have any of the following symptoms while using the birth control patch:
- A – Abdominal pain, severe
- C – Chest pain (severe), cough, or shortness of breath
- H – Headache (severe) or increased frequency or intensity of headache, dizziness, weakness, or numbness
- E – Eye problems: vision loss or blurring, speech problems
- S – Severe leg pain in calf or thigh
What do I do if I forgot to change my patch?
Check out our missed patch guidelines
Link to http://www.islandsexualhealth.org/birthcontrol/patch/#missed