HRT Patches Side Effects: 3 Things To Know

Last updated 04.15.2024 | by Sabrina Johnson | 6 Minutes Read

This article has been reviewed and fact checked by Dr. Karen Pike, a senior physician administrator and board-certified emergency room doctor actively working in northern California. Read more at our medical disclaimer page.

HRT (Hormone replacement therapy) has been known for its effectiveness in managing several menopausal issues like hot flashes, insomnia, sleep problems, etc. Findings from data revealed that around 70% of women going through surgical menopause with both ovaries removed opted for HRT. On the other hand, 50% of women having hysterectomy used HRT. The percentage of women with natural menopause opting for hormone therapy was less – not more than 29%.

There are different types of hormone therapies available in several forms, like vaginal rings, tablets, gels, patches, sprays, and creams.

Have you used HRT? Are you interested in its pros and cons? This article will mainly discuss HRT patches and their side effects (if any). I will include aspects like the kinds of HRT, what HRT patches are, and their benefits and drawbacks. Let’s get started.

The Different Kinds of HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy)

There are mainly two kinds of HRT prescribed in menopause – estrogen therapy and combination therapy.

As evident from the name, estrogen therapy only involves the estrogen hormone and is initially prescribed in a low dose by the healthcare provider. Menopausal women who have undergone hysterectomy are mostly advised estrogen therapy. The reason is that estrogen-only HRT will come with fewer risks than the combination variant. Estrogen therapy is available in:

  • Pills (for oral consumption)
  • Patches (stuck to the skin)
  • Gels (applied on the skin)
  • Rings (worn inside the vagina)
  • Cream (applied to the vagina)
  • Tablets (placed within your vagina)
  • Spray (applied to the arm)

The combination form containing both estrogen and progestin is prescribed to women who still have a womb and require progestin alongside estrogen. Taking progestin helps to lessen uterine cancer risks that are higher when you take estrogen-only hormones (especially if you still have a womb).

Combination therapy is available as:

  • Skin patches
  • Pills
  • IUD (Intrauterine devices)

What is an HRT Patch?

They are medicated patches applied to the skin. They remain stuck on the skin and release hormones into the body in small amounts. They need to be changed quite often, though each brand is different. As mentioned, both the combination HRT and estrogen-only varieties come in skin patches.

Benefits of HRT Patches

People using patches have mentioned some advantages of it over the other forms of HRT. Here are a few of them:

  • Many people mention that patches are more convenient for them than pills as they often need help remembering if they consumed the tablets or not. Some women even experience difficulties in swallowing pills. The patches are an excellent option for them as well.
  • Patches help to lessen the risk of the side effects of other HRT forms, like blood clots and indigestion.

Side Effects of HRT Patches

Let’s get to our main topic: HRT’s side effects or drawbacks. Every procedure has probable side effects, and HRT patches aren’t an exception.

  • An acquaintance once said she had trouble keeping the patches on her skin firmly, especially when applying moisturizer. That’s one of the main cons of HRT patches.
  • Sometimes, the patches can cause redness, irritation, and even marks on the skin. That’s why it is advisable to apply the patches when your skin isn’t moisturized and peel them off slowly to avoid irritation.
  • HRT patches mainly impact the skin, as mentioned above. That’s one of the primary side effects. However, the patches can cause specific other side effects as well, including:
  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Gas
  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Breast tenderness or pain
  • Heartburn
  • Vaginal discharge or swelling, irritation, and itching
  • Hair loss
  • Changes in sex drive
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Discoloration on the skin and face
  • Hair growth in undesired places
  • Nasal congestion
  • Anxiety or depression

If you notice any changes while using HRT patches, it is always advisable to consult a healthcare provider.

Where to Apply the HRT Patches?

Apply the HRT patches to the skin of your lower abdomen below your waistline. You may even put the patches on the skin of your upper buttocks. However, you should maintain caution while using the patches. Do not use it on:

  • The skin of your breasts
  • Oily or damaged skin
  • Skin folds or creases
  • The skin under direct exposure to sunlight
  • The skin beneath elasticated or tight clothing

You shouldn’t apply powders, lotions, or creams to the area where you will put the patch.

Who Shouldn’t Apply the Patches Or Other Forms of HRT?

The HRT patches or other forms of HRT are unsuited for women who:

  • Are allergic to progesterone and estrogen
  • Have experienced unexplained episodes of vaginal bleeding
  • Have been diagnosed with breast or endometrial cancer
  • Are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Have a history of blood clots, liver issues, heart ailments, diabetes, migraine, underactive thyroid, epilepsy, or dementia.

The patches and other forms of HRT interact with antiepileptic medications, antifungal medications, thyroid medications, and others. That is why informing your healthcare provider about the medicines you are taking before undergoing HRT is essential.


How long do the HRT patches last?

The duration of the HRT patches depends on the brand you are using. Some apply the patches once or twice a week, while some women wear them constantly. Some women will wear the patches for three weeks and then go patch-free for a week. Following a doctor’s instructions regarding the period you will wear the patch is essential. If the patch falls during a shower, dry your skin before you put on a new patch.

What is the benefit of a hormonal patch?

The benefits of hormonal patches are similar to other forms of hormone replacement therapy treatment. It helps to manage menopausal symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, low sex drive, troubled sleeping, mood swings, memory issues, urgency to urinate, and anxiety.

How do you apply the HRT patches?

When applying HRT patches, here are some instructions that you must follow:

• Remove the patch by opening the pouch.
• The patch has a protective film, which you must peel off. Mow press the sticky side against your skin, either on your upper buttock or lower abdomen.
• Attach the patch to your skin firmly. For this, you must press the patch firmly for around ten seconds.
• When it’s time to remove the patch, peel it off gently to avoid any irritation to your skin.
• Once you have removed the patch, dispose of it safely out of the reach of children.
• If your skin appears sticky, apply lotion or cream fifteen minutes after removal.


  • Sabrina Johnson

    Meet Sabrina Johnson, a compassionate author and a seasoned expert in Obstetrics and Gynecology. She is a driving force behind Simply Menopause, where her extensive medical knowledge and empathetic nature come together to empower women in their menopausal journey. Sabrina offers culturally sensitive guidance and support through her approachable writing, making her a trusted friend on the path to menopause wellness.