Getting contraception when you live abroad

When moving abroad, there are many important matters to consider, but one that is often forgotten is contraception. With all the stress that comes with a major move, it’s easy to understand why birth control might not be the most pressing matter on your mind. But that doesn’t mean it’s not important, in fact, there’s a lot to think about.

What can I get and where

Your destination will play a major role in how you handle your birth control needs. The first thing you should do is research how accessible birth control is in your new country. This isn’t just limited to finding out how easy it is to find, but also how culturally accepted it is in your new home. Many countries still have stigmas and laws against birth control, so you should be prepared for this before you arrive. This also includes access to emergency contraception, as the morning after pill is not available in certain countries worldwide.

Facing changes

Once you’ve established how to find contraception in your new country, there are some other hurdles you should be aware of. Firstly, your usual brand of contraception might not be available there – in which case you will be changed to another. If this happens, make sure to read the information provided and research online to read other people’s experiences. Not only will this keep you informed of any possible side-effects, but you can be sure that your new pill is right for you. For example, certain brands are not suitable for smokers.

To make sure you get matched to a brand as close to your previous one as possible, bring as much information to your new country as you can. This can be as simple as bringing the packaging of your current contraception, or if possible, asking your doctor to write you a prescription including the active ingredients and dosage information. This allows your new doctor to match you as closely as possible with your current brand.

Depending on your country of origin, you may not currently pay for birth control, but this could change. Make sure to research the charges you could face and decide the best course of action for you. If you are only going abroad for a short time, or plan to visit home occasionally, you could get your contraception whilst there and bring it back with you. Many countries offer birth control in up to six month doses, so if your schedule allows it, this is a good way to avoid fees and remain on your preferred brand.

Health Issues

As always, you need to be aware of the risks associated with your chosen contraception. If you take the pill, always read the information booklet and be aware that any sickness or diarrhoea can reduce its effectiveness. This is especially important when moving to a new place, as issues such as adapting to new food, different climates, or even just stress can induce illness. In which case, you will need to use an extra method of contraception to keep protected. And remember you have a two hour window to take your pill each day, so if you’re new home is in a different timezone, this needs to be taken into account upon arrival.