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HRT patches information sheet

Your doctor may have talked to you about whether HRT patches are right for you. Here’s some information about them, what they do and how to use them.

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) patches stick to your skin and release hormones. There is a constant, small amount of oestrogen (oestradiol) in oestrogen-only patches and oestrogen and progestogen in combined patches.

HRT consists of two hormones – oestrogen and progestogen. Oestrogen manages most menopause symptoms, and progestogen protects the lining of the womb. If you still have a womb (you haven’t had a hysterectomy) and you take oestrogen by itself, it can thicken the lining of your womb, increasing your risk of womb cancer.

If you have a womb (you haven’t had a hysterectomy) and you have oestrogen-only patches, you’ll also need to use a separate progestogen in a capsule, tablet or the Mirena™ intrauterine system. You can find out more about the Mirena™ here.

How to use HRT patches

HRT patches stay on all the time. You change them twice a week, always on the same day – so you have one on for 3 days and one on for 4 days. For example, you can change on a Monday and a Thursday and then on a Monday again etc., or Tuesday and Friday and then Tuesday again, etc. Some patients tell us that they set the alarm on their phone to remind them when to change. There should not be a break between one patch and the next.

Stick the patch onto a hairless area of skin below your waist. Most women prefer to wear the patch on their thigh or bottom:

  • Apply your patch to clean, dry, cool skin as soon as you open the protective pouch.
  • You can wear your patch under loose clothing.
  • Don’t apply your patch on or near your breasts.
  • Don’t put it on top of cuts, spots, or anywhere the skin is irritated.
  • Don’t use cream, moisturiser, or talc before applying your patch.
  • Don’t apply your patch on the same area of skin twice in a row.
  • Don’t wear your patch under elasticated areas or a tight waistband.

If a patch falls off

Apply a new patch but keep to your original ‘patch change’ days. If you have just had a bath or shower, wait until your skin cools before applying a new patch.

If you forget to change your patch

Change it as soon as you remember, and then keep to your original ‘patch change’ days. You may get some bleeding and spotting, like a period, during this time.

Other useful information

  • You can have a bath or shower as normal when you’re wearing your patch. Just don’t scrub too hard, as this can loosen the edges of the patch.
  • You can go swimming. This won’t affect your patch.
  • You can exercise and play sports, but don’t wear your patch under tight clothing or waistbands as the edge may start to peel off.
  • You can sunbathe. Just remember to keep the patch covered, out of direct sunlight.
  • Sometimes, a bit of fluff from your tights can stick to the left-over adhesive. Gently use a little bit of oil to free it up.

Some women get skin reactions:

  • Very common (affects more than 1 in 10 people):
    • Irritated, itchy skin and a rash where the patch is applied.
  • Common (affects less than 1 in 10 people):
    • Red, puffy skin where the patch is applied.

Different brands of patches have different additional ingredients, as well as the oestradiol. So if you react to one kind of patch, it can be worth trying a different brand.

Authored by:

Dr Clare Spencer
Registered menopause specialist, GP and co-founder

Last updated:

07/04/2021

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