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    The Evra contraceptive patch on Love Island

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      Lady in bikini bottoms wearing contraceptive patch

      After Rebecca Gormley, a contestant on popular ITV2 show Love Island, was seen entering the villa with a patch on her thigh, the world of social media was set alight with speculation over what the patch could be.

      Some viewers suggested it might be a nicotine patch used to help stop smoking, while others have decided it is likely to be a contraceptive patch, the most common in the UK being the Evra patch. With this in mind, we’ve taken a look into the Evra patch and why so few people seem to know about it.

      What is the Evra Patch and how does it work?

      Evra patch is a small sticky patch that is stuck to the skin and releases hormones to prevent pregnancy. A relatively simple choice of contraception, you only have to remember to change your patch weekly (unlike the pill which is taken daily), and if used correctly the patch is more than 99% effective as a form of birth control.

      The patch contains the same hormones as the combined pill and releases a daily dose of these hormones through the skin. This combination of hormones prevents ovulation – without the release of an egg, there is nothing for sperm to fertilise. The hormones in the patch also thicken cervical mucus (making it hard for sperm to reach the cervix) and thins the lining of the womb (making it less likely that a fertilised egg can implant itself).

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      So, why choose the Evra patch?

      As the patch is so easy to use and effective, it’s not hard to understand why some women choose it over other more traditional contraceptive options.

      Advantages of the Evra patch:

      • It has to be changed weekly
      • Doesn’t interrupt sex
      • It can be worn while swimming, in the bath, shower, a hot tub or sauna
      • Hormones absorbed through the skin, not the stomach, so if you vomit or have diarrhoea, it will still work
      • It can improve acne
      • It can make periods more regular
      • It can make periods lighter, less painful and help with Premenstrual Sydrome
      • May reduce the risk of some cancers, recurrent endometriosis after surgery and help problems associated with polycystic ovarian syndrome

      Disadvantages of the Evra patch

      • It can be seen
      • It may cause skin irritation
      • Some women experience mild temporary side effects when they begin with the patch (headaches, nausea, breast tenderness and mood changes)
      • It can cause breakthrough bleeding and spotting
      • It won’t protect you against sexually transmitted diseases
      • If it falls off you may not be protected from pregnancy

      So why the fuss?

      Gormley’s wearing of the Evra patch has become quite the social media sensation because so few people seem to know about its existence, and the fact that contraception is very rarely addressed by the ITV2 show. People are hailing Rebecca Gormley as a role model, for wearing her Evra patch and normalising this method of contraception. But if the patch is such an effective and easy-to-use birth control solution, why are so many people in the dark as to what it is?

      It is most likely the case that so few people know about the patch, because so few people use it. In the year 2017/18, 9 out of 10 of the 3.1 million women prescribed contraception in England received either the combined pill or mini-pill. Less than 0.5% were prescribed either the diaphragm, vaginal ring or contraceptive patch.

      Surely this can’t mean that 90% of women would prefer to take the pill? Well it’s hard to be sure, but a 2016 survey by FPA showed that just 2% of GP surgeries offer the full range of 15 contraceptive methods available on the NHS. Whether this be because of economic constraints with half of local authorities cutting spending on contraception in 2017, time constraints with appointments not allowing for a wide ranging discussion on the options, or resource constraints with staff not having the appropriate training for fitting certain contraceptives.

      Where can I get the Evra patch?

      You can get the Evra patch through contraception clinic. Simply request the treatment, fill out the questionnaire and, if deemed appropriate, our clinicians will prescribe you the contraceptive.

      References

      https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/love-island-2020-rebecca-patch-thigh-leg-contraceptive-twitter-what-a9295876.html​​​​​​​
      https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/contraception/contraceptive-patch/
      https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/mar/07/revealed-pill-still-most-popular-prescribed-contraceptive-in-england
      https://www.fpa.org.uk/news/survey-finds-worrying-gaps-gp-contraceptive-provision
      http://theagc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/AGC_Report-Final-2017.pdf

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