Birth Control Options
Transdermal Patch (EVRA*)
What is it?
EVRA* (also know as "The Patch") is a birth control patch. It is a 4cm x 4cm thin, beige patch that you wear on your body. The patch sticks to a woman's skin and continuously releases the hormones estrogen and progestin into the bloodstream. Like birth control pills, EVRA* is highly effective in preventing pregnancy when used correctly. Because the patch only needs to be replaced once a week, it may be a good choice for women who have trouble remembering to take a pill every day.
How does it work?
EVRA* contains 2 types of hormones: estrogen (ethinyl estradiol) and progestin (norelgestromin). Once you apply the patch to your body, these hormones are continuously absorbed through your skin and into your bloodstream. Like oral contraceptive pills, the patch works to prevent pregnancy in 3 ways:
- Prevents the ovaries from releasing eggs
- Thickens the mucus secretions from your cervix, making it difficult for sperm to enter your uterus
- Changes the lining of the uterus, making implantation difficult
How do I use it?
- One patch is applied to the skin each week, for 3 weeks in a row
- The patch should be changed on the same day each week (called the "Patch Change Day")
- The fourth week is patch-free. (Your period is expected to begin during this time.)
- Following the seven patch-free days, start a new cycle by applying a new patch on the Patch Change Day. (The patch should never be off for more than 7 days in a row.)
Tips for wearing EVRA*:
- The patch can be worn on the buttocks, lower stomach, back or upper arms, but not on the breasts
- It may help to change the location of the patch each week to avoid skin irritation
- Be sure to apply the patch to clean, dry skin and avoid having any creams or oils on your hands
- When applying the patch, try to keep it flat with no bumps or wrinkles
- Check each day to make sure the patch is still well applied to the skin
How effective is it in preventing pregnancy?
The patch is more than 99% effective in preventing pregnancy when used perfectly (92% with typical use). However, it may be less effective in women who weigh more than 90 kg (198 lbs).
What are the advantages?
- It is a reversible and highly effective birth control method
- Once-a-week regimen; no daily contraceptive routine required
- Simple and easy to use
- Regulates menstrual cycle and reduces cramps
- Does not interfere with sex
- Like the birth control pill, it is believed to reduce the risk of endometrial and ovarian cancers and help prevent benign ovarian cysts
What are the disadvantages?
- The patch does not protect against sexually transmitted infections
- May not be suitable for women who weigh more than 198 pounds
- Effectiveness may be reduced by other medications
- May cause side effects, including irregular bleeding and spotting, breast tenderness, headache or nausea. These side effects generally disappear in a few months.
- May cause skin irritation in some people
- Patch may fall off (less than 2%)
- Need a prescription
- May increase the risk of blood clots, particularly in women who have certain blood disorders or a family history of blood clots