What is it? 

It’s a thin beige coloured square, similar to a large bandaid that is worn on the body to prevent pregnancy. Each package contains 3 patches; each is worn for one week and then discarded. The 4th week is a “patch-free” week and this is when you will get your period.

How does it work?

The Evra patch contains both estrogen and progestin hormones like the birth control pill which are absorbed through the skin and enter the blood stream to prevent pregnancy. This prevents ovulation so that no egg is released from the ovaries. It also helps to thicken the cervical mucus making it harder for sperm to travel into the uterus. It also helps thin the lining of the uterus to prevent a fertilized egg from implanting inside the uterus.

How do I start using it?

Remove the patch from the foil package being careful not to to accidently remove the clear liner. Peel off half of the clear liner and avoid touching the sticky side. Position it on the site you have chosen and remove the other half of the clear liner. Place it on your buttocks, abdomen, upper torso or arm. DO NOT place on irritated skin, skin with lotions or cosmetics, or your breasts. You should only wear one patch at a time and must remove the previous patch. Press firmly to the skin for 10 seconds, making sure the edges stick. When removing, fold the patch in half and discard.

When does it start working?

If you start on the last day of your period, or on the day after an abortion, it will start working right away. If you start in between your periods, then it takes 7-10 days to be effective. Use condoms or abstain from sex until it is working.

What if I leave a patch on too long?

If you leave it on 1-2 days longer than you should, that’s OK. If you leave it on for over 9 days, that’s more of a concern. You should take the morning after pill, or have a copper IUD inserted, and put on the next patch right away.

What if I am late putting on the patch after my period?

That’s a concern. Take the morning after pill, or a copper IUD, and put it on right away. Don’t rely on it for 7-10 days.

What if the patch falls off?

Try and re-apply it to your skin, or put a new one on. If it has been off for more than 24 hours, then you would be wise to use the morning after pill or get a copper IUD right away in addition to starting a new cycle of 3, one week patches.

What are danger signs that something is wrong?

There is a small but serious risk of blood clotting with using the patch, though these risks are less than the health risks of pregnancy. If there is a clot forming, you may have severe pain in your calf or thigh, chest pain, severe headaches or vision problems. Seek help at the emergency department right away.

Many women like the patch for the following reasons:

  • You don’t have to remember a pill each day, it’s on you all week and you change on the same day each week

  • It regulates your period, so you know when you expect it

  • It can reduce the amount of bleeding and/or cramps

  • It is 92-99.7% effective (depends on your perfect use)

  • It allows for more spontaneous sex as you are protected

There are some health benefits to being on the patch:

  • It may help reduce acne, moodiness or other PMS symptoms that you have when you are not on hormones

  • It may reduce the risk of ovarian cysts

  • It is believed to reduce endometrial and ovarian cancer

  • It is reversible- once you stop, you can get pregnant

  • It will help you avoid pregnancy till you are ready

Successfully switching from another method:

  • If you are now on the birth control pill, take the first 21 pills as usual. Apply the patch on the first day of bleeding or the first day of the hormone free week. This will be your “patch change day”.

  • If you were on Depo-Provera, apply your new Patch 2 days before the next shot of Depo-Provera is due. This will be your “patch change day”.

There are on-line resources to help you remember it weekly: JANSSEN and they will send an email reminder!

Some women don’t like the patch for the following reasons:

  • Your skin may be irritated at the patch site

  • The patch may fray or come off

  • It may cause spotting or irregular bleeding

  • It may cause hormonal side effects like breast tenderness, bloating, nausea or mood changes

  • It doesn’t protect against STIs

Some women SHOULD NOT use the patch:

  • Women who are over 35 and smoke

  • Women over 198 pounds (90 kg)

  • Women who cannot take estrogen

  • Women who might be pregnant

  • Women who have undiagnosed vaginal bleeding

  • Women who have liver problems (e.g. hepatitis)

  • Women who have diabetes

  • Women who have migraines

  • Women who have had a stroke or heart attack

  • Women who have a risk of blood clots, or ever had one

  • Women who are breastfeeding (first 6 months)