The birth control patch is a method of hormonal
contraception. Ortho Evra, the birth control patch, was introduced in 2002. The
patch is a highly effective birth control with approximately six of 100 women
becoming pregnant in a year of typical use.
A birth control patch is a small square patch that looks
like a band-aid. It
sticks to the skin and gradually releases hormones into the body to prevent
pregnancy. It is replaced once a week.
The patch contains two types of synthetic hormones: estrogen
and progestin. These are the same types of hormones found in most birth control
pills. When released into the body, these hormones prevent pregnancy by
blocking the ovaries from releasing eggs. They also thicken the cervix mucus to
keep out sperm.
You must have a prescription to use the birth control patch.
See your doctor to discuss whether the patch is right for you. The birth
control patch is very easy to use.
To use the birth control patch:
1. Start using the patch as soon as you obtain them if you
are reasonably sure you aren’t pregnant.
2. Open the foil pouch so that it lies flat.
3. Decide where you will put the patch. You need an area of
clean, dry skin on your stomach, upper arm, upper back/shoulder, or buttocks.
4. Peel the patch off of the foil.
5. Peel half of the plastic off the patch, being careful not
to touch the sticky part.
6. Stick the patch to your skin, peeling off the rest of the
7. Push the patch against your skin using the palm of your
hand for 10 seconds.
8. Remove the patch on the same day the following week.
9. Apply a new patch in the same manner.
10. Dispose of the old patch by folding it in half so that
it sticks to itself. Place it in a sealed plastic bag, and throw it away.
11. Do this for three weeks. On the fourth week, take a
break from the patch. Then start again the next week.
When using the patch:
- always apply it to clean, dry skin
- do not use lotion, powder, or makeup under or
near the patch
- do not apply the patch to your breast
- do not flush the patch down the toilet
because it may contaminate the water supply with hormones
Every few days, it is also a good idea to check and make
certain the patch has not come loose.
If you discover that the patch has fallen off, consult the
pharmacy instructions for how to proceed. Plan to use a backup contraceptive
method for one week.
The birth control patch is very effective. According to
Planned Parenthood, the failure rate is:
- one percent for women who always use the patch
- nine percent for women who don’t always use the
It is important to change your patch at the same day and
time each week. Decide which day and time would be easiest for you before you
start using the patch.
The birth control patch is a simple and convenient form of
contraception. Benefits include:
- high efficacy
- regulation of your menstrual cycle
- shorter, lighter periods with less cramping
- unlike the pill, you only need to think about it
once a week
The birth control patch does not protect against sexually
transmitted infections. It may also cause side effects, including:
- skin irritation from the patch
- bleeding between periods
- breast tenderness
- nausea and vomiting
If these side effects last for longer than 3 months, talk to
your doctor. A different method of birth control may be better for you.
All hormonal birth control has the potential to cause rare
but serious side effects, including:
- deep vein thrombosis
- heart attack
- pulmonary embolism
There has been conflicting findings but the more recent and
larger studies demonstrate no difference in risk among estrogen containing
pills, patch or rings. However, the
overall risk is still low.
Complications are more common in women who:
- smoke and are over age 35
- have diabetes
- have high blood pressure or cholesterol
- have certain inherited blood clotting conditions
If you fall into one of these categories, discuss with your
doctor whether hormonal contraception is right for you.