Contraceptive Patch


In this session, we will be discussing the consumer medication information for the contraceptive patch, trade name Ortho EvraTM

What it’s for & How to take

The contraceptive patch is hormonal contraceptive birth control. This medication may sometimes be used to regulate the menstrual cycle, decrease your chance of ovarian cysts, decrease blood loss, help with painful periods or treat acne. If you are using this medication for a reason not discussed here, talk about it with your doctor.

This medication is a combination of two different female hormones, estrogen and progestin. By maintaining a moderately constant level of hormones in your body, the surge of hormones around ovulation is avoided and an egg is not released. This therapy also thickens the vaginal secretions making it more difficult for sperm to reach an egg. This medication affects the lining of the uterus, making it more difficult for a fertilized egg to attach to the uterine wall.

Each box comes with 3 patches. You will wear one new patch each week for 3 weeks, then go for 1 week without a patch. To apply the patch, remove it from the foil pack, and apply it to an area of clean, dry skin on the buttock, abdomen, upper outer arm or upper body. Make sure it won’t be rubbed by tight clothing. Make sure you do not apply the patch on or near your breast or over any irritated skin. Change the location of the patch each week so you don’t cause irritation to the skin. When you remove your patch, fold it in half so it sticks to itself and throw it in the garbage away from children or pets. Do not flush the used patch down the toilet.

Unless directed otherwise by your doctor, apply your first patch on the first Sunday following the beginning of your menstrual period. Mark your calendar. If your menstrual period begins on Sunday, apply your patch on that day. You should begin your period sometime during the fourth and “patch-free” week of your cycle. Begin your next 28-day patch cycle without missing a day regardless of whether you have started your period. If you do not start your period, call your doctor.

A missed dose means that the patch has been loose or has fallen off for 24 hours or more, or, the same patch has been left on for 9 or more days. If a patch comes off, replace it with a new patch within 24 hours and continue with your normal schedule. If it has been more than 24 hours, start a completely new cycle and apply a patch on the day you remember. This is your new day number 1. Continue for 3 weeks with a new patch each week, and then 1 week without a patch. When starting over like this, you will need to use a backup form of birth control such as a condom or spermicide for 7 days. Talk with your doctor about the possible need for emergency contraception for any unprotected sex you had while the patch was off.

Find your medication package paperwork and locate the exact instructions that explain what to do when you miss a dose. Cut out this section and put it in your wallet. Ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain these instructions if you do not understand them.

Most Important Warnings

  • Do not use this medication if you smoke cigarettes or any other tobacco products and are over 35 years old. Smoking cigarettes while taking this medication increases your risk of stroke, heart attack, blood clots and high blood pressure. This risk significantly increases if you are over the age of 35 years old.
  • Hormonal contraception does not protect you from sexually transmitted diseases.

Other Warnings & Cautions

  • Do not use birth control pills if you are pregnant, might be pregnant, or are breastfeeding. If you are taking this medication and think you might be pregnant, talk with your doctor right away.
  • When starting this therapy, use an additional form of birth control such as a condom or spermicide for the first 7 days while the medication is building up in your system.
  • If you are ever unsure what to do about a missed dose, use a back-up contraception method, such as a condom or spermicidal gel, anytime you have sex. Continue taking your normal dosage until you contact your healthcare provider for instructions. Discuss the possibility of emergency contraception for any unprotected sex.
  • While using hormonal birth control, it is possible that your skin may develop dark patches. Sun exposure may make this worse. Avoid prolonged sun exposure and tanning booths. Use sunscreen or wear protective clothing when necessary.

Interactions & Side Effects

  • Tell your pharmacist or doctor all your medication allergies so they may determine if your contraceptive patch is safe for you to use.
  • Taking other medications may decrease the effectiveness of your birth control and lead to an unintended pregnancy. Tell your pharmacist or doctor all the other medication you are taking, including over the counter supplements, even if you don’t take them very often.
  • Ask your doctor if this medication is safe to take with your current or past health conditions. Tell your doctor if you have any circulation issues, heart, thyroid, diabetes, liver, blood clots, cancer, incomplete miscarriage, abortion, mental disease, or any other medical condition you have experienced.
  • While using your contraceptive patch, you may feel some nausea, headache, bloating or dizziness. If these or any other unwanted side effects persist, contact your doctor or pharmacist to talk about it with them.
  • If you experience any significant changes in vaginal bleeding, problems wearing contact lenses, unwanted facial hair, dark patches on your skin, significant weight change, or if you miss your period, contact your doctor to talk about it.
  • Call your doctor right away if you feel a severe headache, problems with vision, speech, or balance, an increase in depression, swelling in your body or any breast lumps.
  • Call emergency 911 if you have any symptoms of a heart attack such as chest and left arm pain, shortness of breath and sweating or if you have symptoms of a stroke such as weakness on one side of your body, slurred speech, sudden vision changes, and confusion.

If you have any questions about what you have heard, contact your pharmacist or doctor. This session does not include all the potential interactions or side effects that this medication may cause. Ask your pharmacist how your medication should be stored and how you should dispose of it when you are done taking it. Do not share your medication with anyone, ever. Remember, this is not meant to replace your counseling session with your pharmacist. In case of overdose, call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222.

Updated 7/20