The contraceptive patch

The contraceptive patch looks a bit like a square band-aid, which you stick onto your stomach, butt or upper arm. You change it every week for three weeks on and one week off, so you get breakthrough bleeding which seems like a period (but actually isn’t a true menstrual bleed).

The patch works by released oestrogen and progestin-like artificial hormones via the skin, preventing ovulation, and thickening cervical mucous (creating a barrier to sperm entering the uterus).

The patch is effective 99 per cent of the time, except in women who weight more than 90kg (198 pounds), where it is less effective. There is one brand of patch, the Ortho Evra.

How to use the contraceptive patch

The patch is effective only seven days after continuous use, and you should begin the day on or after an abortion, miscarriage, or delivery if you want to use it after a pregnancy. Or, start the week after the beginning of your menstrual cycle.

If you’re breastfeeding, talk to your doctor, as it could interfere with milk production. You apply the patch yourself on clean, dry skin, and on a different spot each time to avoid irritation.

Never place the patch on your breasts or where it will be rubbed by tight clothes. The patch delivers more oestrogen than the low-dose contraceptive pill and the NuvaRing.

What to do if your patch falls off

In the case that a patch has fallen off and you haven’t noticed, you are advised to take a pregnancy test if it’s possible you could be pregnant.

Do not use the patch if you…

  • Are over age 35
  • Have a history of heart attack or stroke, blood clots, chest pain
  • Have unexplained vaginal bleeding
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes with complications
  • Known or suspected cancer
  • Known or suspected pregnancy
  • Liver tumours or disease
  • Headaches with neurological symptoms
  • Heart valve disease
  • Hepatitis or jaundice
  • Long bed rest after surgery
  • Allergy to the patch

Side-effects of the contraceptive patch

  • Skin irritations
  • Irregular menstrual bleeding
  • Issues wearing contact lenses – for some reason it can cause issues with vision
  • Fluid retention
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Breast tenderness
  • Mood changes
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Abdominal pain

Very dangerous emergency side-effects (call an ambulance or go to the emergency room)

  • Severe abdominal pains
  • Chest pain or shortness of breath
  • Severe headaches
  • Blurred vision or other eye problems
  • Severe leg or arm pain or numbness

Interactions of the contraceptive patch with other drugs

Some medicines reduce the effectiveness of the patch:

  • Antibiotics
  • Tuberculosis medicine
  • Anti-seizure medicine
  • Migraine medicine
  • Some HIV/AIDS drugs

Original price was: USD $9.99.Current price is: USD $0.00. ex GST/VAT/TAX
Original price was: USD $9.95.Current price is: USD $0.00. ex GST/VAT/TAX
Jessica Lloyd - Vulvovaginal Specialist Naturopathic Practitioner, BHSc(N)

Jessica is a degree-qualified naturopath (BHSc) specialising in vulvovaginal health and disease, based in Melbourne, Australia.

Jessica is the owner and lead naturopath of My Vagina, and is a member of the:

  • International Society for the Study of Vulvovaginal Disease (ISSVD)
  • International Society for the Study of Women's Sexual Health (ISSWSH)
  • National Vulvodynia Association (NVA) Australia
  • New Zealand Vulvovaginal Society (ANZVS)
  • Australian Traditional Medicine Society (ATMS)