Ortho Evra or "the patch" is a birth-control patch. It contains the hormones norelgestromin and ethinyl estradiol, hormones similar to those used in birth control pills. Each contraceptive patch, which is thin, beige, flexible, and square, is worn on the body for 1 week at a time.
Once applied to the body, the hormones are absorbed through the skin into the blood stream. Like the birth control pill, the patch works by suppressing ovulation. It also causes changes to the cervical mucus and to the endometrium (lining of the uterus) that further reduce the chances of becoming pregnant.
Like the pill, the contraceptive patch is 99% effective when used correctly.
You may apply your first patch during the first 24 hours of your menstrual period. No back-up birth control method is needed.
Or you may wait until the first Sunday after your period begins. A non-hormonal method of birth control (such as condoms or a diaphragm) is needed for the first 7 days.
You can apply the patch to your abdomen, buttock, upper outer arm, or upper torso (but not the breasts). You can wear it in the same location each week. However, you should apply each new patch to a new spot on the skin. To ensure effectiveness, you should not write on the patch or alter it in any way.
You should apply the patch to clean, dry skin with no redness, irritation, or cuts. To make sure that the patch sticks properly, you should avoid using creams, lotions, oils, powder, or makeup on or near the site where the patch is to be applied.
Please refer to the patient package insert for specific instructions in applying the patch.
Check the contraceptive patch every day to make sure that it is still sticking firmly.
To remove a used patch, simply lift one corner and quickly peel back. Because a used patch still contains some active hormones, you should fold the patch in half so that it sticks to itself before you throw it away. If a small ring of adhesive is left on your skin (which may occur if certain clothing has rubbed against the patch), you can remove it by rubbing a small amount of baby oil on the area.
Yes. There is no need to alter daily activities while using the patch. Bathing, showering, swimming, exercising, or moisture due to wet or humid weather should not affect your contraceptive patch.
Yes. If you wish to alter the Patch Change Day, follow these instructions:
Except for possible minor skin reactions when the patch is placed, adverse events are similar to those associated with oral contraceptives. The most common side effects are breast symptoms, headache, application-site reactions, nausea, cramps, and abdominal pain. The patch is not associated with significant changes in weight.
The patch contains hormones similar to those in birth-control pills. Most side effects associated with the patch are not serious, and those that are serious occur infrequently. Serious risks, which can be life–threatening, include blood clots, stroke, and heart attack, and are increased if you smoke cigarettes. Cigarette smoking increases the risk of serious cardiovascular side effects, especially if you are older than 35 years. Women who use hormonal contraceptives are strongly advised not to smoke. Some women should not use the patch, including those who have had blood clots (this does not mean blood clots in your menstrual flow), certain cancers, or a history of heart attack or stroke, as well as those who are or may become pregnant.
In November 2005, Ortho Women’s Health updated the information it provides to clinicians and patients. The current patient information/warning states: “Hormones from patches applied to the skin get into the blood stream and are removed from the body differently than hormones from birth control pills taken by mouth. You will be exposed to about 60% more estrogen if you use ORTHO EVRA than if you use a typical birth control pill containing 35 micrograms of estrogen. In general increased estrogen exposure may increase the risk of side effects. However, it is not known if there are differences in the risk of serious side effects based on the differences between ORTHO EVRA and a birth control pill containing 35 micrograms of estrogen.”
NOTE: The patch does not protect against HIV infection or AIDS or other sexually transmitted diseases.
Call the clinic immediately or consult your private doctor or local Emergency Room if you experience ANY of the following:
These symptoms may be warning signs of a blood clot, heart attack or stroke.
There are some drugs that may interact with Ortho Evra (and other hormonal birth control methods) possibly making the birth control method less effective in preventing pregnancy or causing an increase in breakthrough bleeding. If you are ill or need medical care, tell your health care practitioner that you are using Ortho Evra. If surgery is anticipated, it may be advisable to discontinue Ortho Evra one month before the surgery. Please discuss this with your surgeon and clinician.
Please note also that women who are using a hormonal method of birth control and also use some form of St. John’s Wort have reported pregnancies and breakthrough bleeding.
The contraceptive patch is a reversible form of birth control. As with other forms of hormonal contraception, you may experience a delay in becoming pregnant after you stop using the patch, especially if you had irregular menstrual cycles before you used it. Your clinician may advise you to postpone trying to get pregnant until you begin menstruating regularly on your own.
Be sure you have available at all times a non-hormonal method of birth control such as condoms, diaphragm or spermicides.
If you do not know what to do about mistakes in using your patch, use a backup birth control method every time you have sex and contact your health care provider.
Individual replacement patches are available from your pharmacist.
For detailed information, read carefully the information sheet that is included with your prescription for Ortho Evra or you may access the web site for Ortho Evra at www.orthoevra.com
If you have any questions and are a UW student or established Hall Health patient, you may call one of our Consulting Nurses for further information.
Authored by: Hall Health Center Women's Health Clinic staff
Reviewed by: Hall Health Center Women's Health Clinic staff, January 2014