How to Use the Contraceptive Patch 

There are many forms of contraception. The contraceptive patch is one such type, but it isn’t the most well-known or most popular. Due to this, what it is, how it works and how to use it can lead to confusion and cause people to shy away from even considering it.

However, this underrated method is actually a strong contraceptive contender. To try and clear things up, we have put together this guide which provides a streamlined look at the contraceptive patch and provides a step-by-step run-through of how to use it.

What is the contraceptive patch?

The contraceptive patch, which goes by the brand name Evra in the UK, is a small, thin, beige plaster. It contains the same hormones as the combined contraceptive pill, oestrogen and progestogen, and the patch slowly releases these into the bloodstream through the skin.

These hormones prevent the body from releasing an egg (ovulation). The hormones released by the contraceptive patch also thicken cervical mucus, making it more difficult for sperm to travel through the cervix, and thin the womb lining so that should an egg get fertilised, it is less likely to be able to implant itself.

How to use the contraceptive patch: A step-by-step guide

1. Find out if it’s the right form of contraception for you

Before committing to any form of contraceptive, you need to make sure it’s right for you. You should consider your lifestyle as well as the pros, cons, and side effects of the patch. For example, the contraceptive patch is easy to use, doesn’t interrupt sex and doesn’t need to be taken every day like the pill. Whilst it can make periods light and less painful, it can also cause tender breasts, vaginal dryness and nausea.

Plus, the contraceptive patch isn’t suitable for everyone. You may not be able to use the patch if your BMI is over 35, you have high blood pressure or take certain medications.

To make sure you are fully up to speed about the contraceptive patch, you can access resources like the NHS website for information. You can also speak to your GP or a sexual health clinic for advice.

2. Get the contraceptive patch

Once you’ve decided that the contraceptive patch is the right method for you, the first step is to obtain it. You can get the contraceptive patch free of charge from your GP or through sexual health clinics. Online pharmacies and prescription platforms, such as The Lowdown, also sell the Evra patch.

3. Apply the contraceptive patch

The next step is to apply the patch to your body. You can start using the patch at any time during your menstrual cycle. If you apply it within the first 5 days of your period starting and you have a normal cycle length, you will be protected from pregnancy straight away. If you stick it on at any other time in your cycle, you’ll need to use condoms or another form of contraception for seven days.

To apply, stick the first patch in the packet onto clean, dry skin. The patch can be put onto most areas so long as the skin isn’t particularly hairy. However, don’t stick the patch on your breasts, sore or irritated skin, or areas where it might get rubbed by clothing. Popular areas for patch placement include the bum, upper arms and lower back.

4. Check your calendar

You’ll need to apply a fresh patch once a week, every week, for three weeks (21 days). You then have a patch-free week where you’ll get a withdrawal bleed.

After seven days without a patch, you’ll stick on a new patch on the eighth day. It’s really important that you don’t have more than seven days without the patch so you should put a new one on your skin on the 8th day even if you’re still bleeding. Like with the combined contraceptive pill, you can also choose to use the patch back-to-back.

5. If your contraceptive patch falls off

The contraceptive patch is very sticky, so it should stay on even when you shower, have a bath or go swimming. However, if the patch does fall off, what you need to do will depend on how long it’s been since the patch came off and how many days the patch was on your skin prior to that.

If it came off less than 48 hours ago, stick it back on as soon as possible. If it has lost its stickiness, don’t try to keep it on the skin with a plaster or a bandage. Instead, apply a new patch. Continue to use the patches as usual, changing them when you normally would.

If the patch was on correctly for 7 days before coming off, you’ll be protected against pregnancy and won’t need to use additional contraception. However, if the patch came unstuck after using it for 6 days or less, use additional contraception, such as condoms, for 7 days.

In situations where the patch has been off for 48 hours or more, or you aren’t sure when it came off, apply a new patch as soon as possible and start a new patch cycle. Count the day you put on this new patch as day 1 of a new cycle and use additional contraception for 7 days.

Anabel Cooper

Anabel is a graduate of King’s College London and upon graduating, she set out on a journey to inspire and empower women through her words. Besides working as a digital marketing expert, Anabel is a freelance copywriter.