Love Island’s Rebecca Gormley shamed over ‘contraceptive patch’

The newest member of the villa was spotted wearing what seems to be a contraceptive patch with pride.

Contraceptive Patch

by Rebecca Reid |
Updated on

She’s only been in the villa for about 90 seconds, but last night Love Island’s Rebecca Gormley had the internet ablaze. Not because she broke up a couple or had a huge fight with another Islander, but instead because she’s wearing a small sticker on her thigh.

Viewers were initially confused by the presence of what looks a bit like a plaster, with some suggesting that it was a nicotine patch. But the most likely explanation is that it’s a contraceptive patch.

Rebecca Gormley
Love Island's Rebecca Gormley ©ITV

For the uninitiated, a contraceptive patch is a kind of sticker which administers a constant low-level dose of hormonal contraceptive.

It’s supposed to be gentler than taking the pill, which is administered in one oral dose. It can be preferable to the implant or injection because if it doesn’t agree with you (and we all know that getting hormonal contraceptive right can be something of a marathon) you can remove it immediately. Plus it isn’t affected if you’re sick or have REa, which the oral pill is.

Predictably, lots of people on the internet had opinions about Rebecca wearing the patch.

Some stated that she was clearly in the villa for sex, because she was using contraception. Others called it ‘classless’ or suggested that she should move the patch to a part of her body where it was hidden. If you’re rolling your eyes, you’re not alone.

To start with, women don’t just use hormonal contraception so that they can have sex. It’s used to treat various different medical issues including endometriosis, irregular periods, acne or period pains.

So to suggest that Rebecca is ‘up for it’ because she’s wearing the contraceptive patch is just painfully ill informed. She might well be using it for totally non-sexual reasons.

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Rebecca Gormley patch
Viewers believe Rebecca Gormley is wearing a contraceptive patch ©ITV

But even if she is wearing the patch because she anticipates having sex, where on earth does all the judgement come from? It can’t come as a surprise that some of the people who go on a show called Love Island are planning to find love (or at least lust) with a fellow contestant, and might end up acting on it?

Much of the objection to the patch seems to be aimed at the fact she isn’t hiding it, rather than the fact that she is using it. But why should she? 25% of 16-49 year olds are currently on the pill. It could hardly be a more normal thing to do.

That said, I've certainly been given the evil eye by strangers when I've popped the contraceptive pill on the bus or tube to work. Apparently nice girls should take their hormonal contraception in the privacy of their own homes, suitably ashamed of their transgression.

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Some internet critics claim that Gormley should have switched the patch for the pill so that no one notices anything, which is slut shaming, but also fundamentally misunderstands the rocky road of hormonal contraceptives. Why would she risk having a multi-week long period by messing with her meds, rather than wearing her sticker with pride?

The criticism of Rebecca speaks of a pervasive sentiment that it’s only okay to have sex if you do it discreetly. Which is entirely illogical. There’s nothing wrong with having sex, whether you’re incredibly private about it, or engage in foreplay on national television.

If we’re going to make any comment about her patch at all, it should be to commend her for opting for safe sex, an important and relevant message in a show aimed at young people.

If you’re interested in moving to a contraceptive patch, visit your local family planning clinic or speak to your GP. The patch doesn't protect against STIs so if you do have one, you should still use condoms until you and your partner have been tested.

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