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What is a contraceptive patch, the little sticker Rebecca might be wearing on her leg in Love Island?


What is that little patch? (Picture: Getty)

The arrival of Rebecca on Love Island prompted a lot of important questions.

How is a human being that attractive? Why is Callum lying about calling her hot? And most pressingly, what’s that little sticker on the model’s leg?

During Rebecca’s interactions in the villa a rectangular sticker was spotted on her thigh, prompting baffled reactions on Twitter and in everyone’s Love Island Whatsapp groups.

We don’t yet know for sure what Rebecca’s patch is, but it might be a nicotine patch or it may be the patch – as in, a form of birth control.

This has provoked even stranger reactions, with people suggesting that anyone using a form of contraception on Love Island must be after sex (wait… why shouldn’t they be?).

But what actually is the contraceptive patch? And how does it work?

What is the contraceptive patch?

The contraceptive patch, known in the UK by its brand name, Evra, is a stick-on patch that, when used correctly, is more than 99% effective at preventing pregnancy.

You stick it anywhere on your body so oestrogen and progestogen can be released through the skin and into the bloodstream to prevent ovulation.

Each patch lasts for one week, so you change it each week for three weeks then have a week off without a patch, which you’ll have a faux period or withdrawal bleed.

A lot of people use the patch because it’s an easy-to-use form of contraception. You can stick the patch on at the beginning of the week and then pretty much forget about it, happily wearing it in the shower and when swimming.

The patch can also help reduce heavy or painful periods, so it’s not only used for the purposes of pregnancy-free sex (although that’s a perfectly okay reason to use one).

Like the contraceptive pill, the patch doesn’t protect against STIs, so it’s important to use condoms as well if you’re having sex with someone who hasn’t passed a recent sexual health test.

How does the contraceptive patch work?

It’s a lot like the combined pill – just in the form of a patch.

Evra contains the same hormones as the combined pill and works in the same way by preventing the release of an egg each month. No egg means no fertilisation, which means no pregnancy.

The patch also thickens cervical mucus to make it more difficult for sperm to move through the cervix and thins the womb lining so even if an egg did somehow manage to be fertilised, it would be difficult for it to implant itself.

How to use the contraceptive patch

It’s pretty simple. You stick on your patch anywhere on your body that it’s unlikely to get rubbed off – apart from your breasts, where a patch shouldn’t be placed.

You then leave it to do its thing for seven days.

On the eighth day, you change the patch to a new one, doing this every week for three weeks. Then you have a patch-free week when you’ll have a withdrawal bleed.

After seven patch-free days, you start the four-week cycle again. Voila.

The patch is pretty sticky and shouldn’t come off even if you’re gallivanting around South Africa, but if it does, don’t panic.

You can stick it back on if it’s still sticky. If it’s unstickable, you just put on a new patch and continue as normal.

You can stick the patch on in most places (Picture: Getty Images)

Who can use the contraceptive patch?

Not everyone can use the contraceptive patch, so don’t go rushing to your GP wanting to be just like Love Island’s Rebecca.

If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, the patch is a no-go. The same goes for if you smoke and are over the age of 35, you’re taking certain medications, or you have a history of certain illnesses, such as migraines, lupus, a heart problem, or blood clots.

You’ll need to chat with your GP or a sexual health clinic to make sure the patch is right for you.

The pros and cons of the contraceptive patch

Time to weigh up the advantages and disadvantages.

The good bits: 

  • It’s easy to use and doesn’t disrupt sex in any way
  • You just have to remember to change it once a week, rather than doing something every day
  • It still works if you’re ill, as it’s not absorbed by the stomach
  • It can make your periods lighter
  • It adds an air of mystery – look at us now, all analysing a sticker on a woman’s leg
  • It may help with PMS symptoms

The bad bits:

  • It can cause skin irritation
  • It doesn’t protect you against STIs
  • You might experience side effects
  • You’ll still need to change it every week, so if you’re super forgetful it might not be for you
  • Risks include blood clots

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