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What is the Evra Patch?
The Evra patch is a form of hormonal contraception. Contraception is used to prevent pregnancy. It comes mainly in two different forms - hormonal contraception, such as injections, the IUD, contraceptive pills or the vaginal ring, which affect hormones within a woman’s body to make it less likely that she will become pregnant, or barrier methods like male or female condoms which prevent sperm reaching the egg.
Unlike most forms of hormonal contraception, which usually comes in the form of a pill that you take every day, Evra is a patch that you put on your skin, steadily releasing hormones into your bloodstream. When you use the patch correctly, it is around 99% effective at preventing pregnancy.
The Evra birth control patch is available on prescription from a doctor or pharmacy. Alternatively we can prescribe it to you after a brief online consultation. Contact us to find out more.
For more information on the Evra patch, please consult the patient information leaflet.
How it works
The Evra contraceptive patch contains the same two hormones as the combined pill - oestrogen and progestogen. The patch releases hormones through the skin into the bloodstream, unlike oral birth control pills which are absorbed by the stomach.
Combined, these hormones work in several ways to prevent pregnancy. They work to prevent ovulation (the release of an egg,) and they make cervical mucus thicker, which can prevent sperm from moving through the cervix. They also thin the lining of the womb, which makes it less likely that an egg will be able to implant itself in the womb.
Depending on which day of your period or menstrual cycle you apply the patch, it may be less effective for the first 7 days. During that time you should use another method of contraception, such as condoms, to ensure you are protected from pregnancy. If you have unprotected sex during this time and you do not wish to become pregnant, you may need emergency contraception, such as the morning after pill.
Before you take it
The Evra patch does not protect you from sexually transmitted infections or any other sexual health problems. You will only be protected from pregnancy by the Evra patch. To protect yourself from sexually transmitted infections, you should continue to use an appropriate method of contraception such as condoms.
Using a method of combined hormonal birth control like the Evra patch can increase your risk of developing blood clots. This is a very minimal risk, but you should speak to your doctor if you are concerned. This risk is more prevalent during the first year of wearing the patch.
The Evra patch is very sticky and should not fall off, even when swimming or bathing. However, if it does, it should stick back on easily. If it does not, do not try to hold it in place with tape or a bandage. Apply a new patch straight away, and change it on the day you would have changed your old patch. You will still be protected from pregnancy if you apply the new patch immediately, but if you wait more than one day, you will need to use additional contraception for 7 days to ensure you do not get pregnant.
Clinical trials suggest that women using the Evra patch have a slightly increased risk of developing breast cancer compared to those who do not. However, this risk decreases after you stop using the patch. You should monitor your breasts for any abnormalities, and consult with your doctor if you notice something unusual. Your doctor will decide whether the benefits of using the patch outweigh the possible risks in this regard.
Prolonged use of hormonal contraception, including the Evra patch and progestogen only pills has also been linked with an increase in the risk of developing cervical cancer.
Evra patch should not be used in adolescent women under the age of 18 for the purposes of contraception. It also should not be used by women 35 years old or over who smoke.
You should not use the patch if you are pregnant. If you become pregnant while using the Evra patch, you should stop using it immediately and speak with your doctor. You should also not use it while breastfeeding.
You will not experience periods when you use the Evra patch, but you will get a withdrawal bleed, which will be a period type bleed, during the week you don’t wear the patch. You may also experience breakthrough bleeding and spotting. You should reapply your patch on your “patch change day”, even if you’re still bleeding.
Do not take the Evra patch with similar hormonal contraceptives, including oral contraceptives (the pill). Mixing hormonal contraceptives in this way can cause a rise in blood pressure. It is safe to use non hormonal methods of contraception, such as condoms, when using the Evra patch. The patch is a safe long term method of contraception - you can take it as long as you need to.
You should visit your doctor regularly for checkups while using the Evra patch. They may wish to monitor your blood pressure, perform a cervical smear test, or examine your breasts to monitor for side effects,
The Evra patch, like other hormonal contraceptives, can cause complications, including heart and liver problems and thrombosis. If this concerns you in any way, it’s best to first discuss it with your doctor, who may be able to offer an alternative method of contraception.
The Evra patch may interact with certain other medications. If you are taking any of the following, you must consult with your doctor or pharmacist before using the Evra patch.
- Medications to treat HIV, such as ritonavir and efavirenz
- Any medication to treat infection, such as griseofulvin and rifampicin
- Anti-seizure medications used to treat epilepsy, such as carbamazepine or barbiturates
- Bosentan, for high blood pressure
- St John's Wort, used for depression
- Any antidepressant medicines
This is not an exhaustive list of warnings or potential drug interactions. For a complete list, you should consult the patient information leaflet.
Always apply the patch exactly as your doctor has told you. Never apply more than one patch at a time. If you are in any way unsure about using the Evra patch, consult your doctor or pharmacist.
If you apply the patch during the first 5 days of your menstrual cycle, you will be protected from pregnancy. If you apply it on any other day, you will need to use an alternative method of contraception for the first seven days that you are wearing the patch.
The Evra patch is beige, and looks like a large plaster. It must be applied to the skin. Make sure it is stuck to your skin properly, pressing down the edges. Never apply the patch to your breasts. Apply it either to your stomach, lower back or buttock - anywhere where the patch will not be rubbed by tight clothing.
Each patch lasts for 7 days. You must remember your start day - this day of the week will be your “patch change day.” You should follow a 4 week patch cycle - wear a patch every week for the first three weeks (21 days). On “patch change day,” take off the old patch and put a new one on. For the fourth week, do not wear a patch. After your patch free week is over, apply your next patch and begin the cycle again. Apply to a different area each week to reduce the risk of skin irritation.
Never go more than 7 days without wearing your patch. Do not cut or tamper with the patch in any way. Do not apply it to irritated, red or infected skin. Do not use oils or creams near to the patch - they may affect it and cause it to fall off. Check each day to see that the patch has not come off. You must keep wearing the patch, even if you are not having regular sex.
Common Side Effects of the Evra Patch
Like any medication, there may be risks that you experience side effects when using the Evra patch. These are usually mild to moderate in nature and should go away on their own within a few months. If you are concerned about them, or if they persist, you should speak with your doctor or pharmacist. Potential related side effects include:
- Breast tenderness
- Nausea or feeling sick
- Muscle spasms
- Changes in menstrual bleeding
- Weight gain
The Evra patch may also cause more serious side effects.These are rare, but, you should talk to your doctor if you experience any of them, as they may mean the Evra patch is unsuitable for you.
- Water retention
- Hair loss
- Increased appetite
- Vaginal dryness
- Eczema or redness of the skin
- Reduced interest in sex
- Itchy skin
- Vaginal discharge
The Evra patch may also cause an allergic reaction. This is extremely rare but any allergic reaction is an emergency, so if you suspect you are having an allergic reaction, you must immediately seek medical help. Symptoms of an allergic reaction include:
- Hives or nettle rash
- Swelling of the face, throat, eyelids, nose or tongue
- Trouble breathing or speaking
- Tightness of the chest or throat
This is not an exhaustive list of side effects. For a complete list, consult your doctor or read the patient information leaflet.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is the Evra patch suitable for children?
The Evra patch is suitable only for women of childbearing age. If you are under the age of 18, visit your doctor or local sexual health clinic for advice on suitable methods of contraception. We do not prescribe any medication to anyone under 18 years old.
What happens if I become pregnant?
When used correctly, the effectiveness of the Evra patch at preventing pregnancy is around 99%. It is around 91% effective with typical use. If you become pregnant while using the Evra patch, it is usually as a result of a dosing mistake, such as not using additional contraception during the first 7 days, or not applying a patch quickly enough if it falls off. You should stop using the Evra patch and visit your doctor as soon as you know you are pregnant while using the Evra patch.
What happens if I forget to change my patch?
If you forget to change your patch, and it has been less than 48 hours since you should have changed it, continue to use the patch as normal and simply apply a new one as soon as possible. Keep your normal change day the same. If it has been more than 24 hours, apply a new patch and treat this as your new “patch change day.” You may need to use additional contraception during this period. If you forget to put a new one on after the patch free interval, simply apply it as soon as you remember and start your patch cycle on that day. If you have more than 7 patch free days, you will need additional contraception for 7 days after the day you start using the patch again, unless starting the patch within the first five days of your menstrual cycle.
What happens if I take too much?
You should only apply one Evra patch at a time. If you apply more than one, it may cause nausea and vaginal bleeding. Take the patches off and ask your doctor or nurse for advice.
|Dosage Instructions||Please see medicine label for the dosage instructions.|