4 bits on birth control in Southeast Asia

I received an e-mail from a reader who is backpacking in Vietnam with some questions regarding birth control in Southeast Asia. I'm always a bit hesitant about giving advice, but I think it's important that women have access to this kind of information. So let's give it a go, aye?  

I want to start with this: I am not a doctor. Please seek medical advice from a professional whenever possible before seeking it from my silly little blog. I can't tell you if bc is going to be something that works for your body because {queue Amy Poehler in Baby Mama} I don't know your life! You might have allergies or be on other medication, etc. So, get yourself to a doctor for hard, factual, medical advice. K? This is all just based on my experiences. 

Second point to make: I'm totally for doing what's best for your own body and keeping yourself safe {read that again!!}. I am 10000% for doing what keeps you healthy and safe and that each individual decides what feels good for their body and what they feel comfortable with {read that again!!}. 

I have never, ever been very 'for' birth control for my own body.  My personal philosophy has been that everything is so man-made and chemically produced as it is {from food to beauty products, etc.} that I wish/try to not add to that by ingesting anything I feel is unnecessary for my own body, making my own choices. I don't even take Tylenol or aspirin. Ya girl didn't take pain medication after her wisdom teeth were pulled. I'm simply not one for putting anything extra foreign into my body if I can help it. It's a personal decision, that's all.

However, when I moved to Laos, I realized quickly living in a developing country where tampons aren't a thing that I'd need to figure out how to be comfortable in 100-degree heat with 100% humidity while working in locations where bathrooms existed in the form of squat toilets. Eventually, for my own reasons, I decided it was time to source bc if at all an option.

Whatever your reasons are, I've written up 4 bits about the accessing birth control in Southeast Asia as a resource for women living or visiting one of my favourite parts of the world. 

1. Birth control is available over the counter + it's affordable. 

Simply walk into a pharmacy and shop around. There are pharmacies in little stopover towns like Nong Khiaw and in more Westernized cities like Bangkok and Hanoi. Mine cost about USD $2 for a 3-month supply.  If you don't speak the language, however, something as simple as going to the pharmacy becomes trickier. Which brings me to point #2...

2. Bring a screenshot with you. 

Overwhelmed and out of my comfort zone, my friend and housemate Googled 'birth control in Lao translation', took a screenshot, and strolled into the pharmacy around the corner finding what I was looking for in one fell swoop. I felt grateful, but also silly that I had been going into stores, utilizing my minimal Lao in conjunction with mime-ing to convey what I was in search of. Take a screenshot with you and make your life easier. 

3. Take pics of what's available back to your accommodation. 

While you have your phone out, take pictures of the pills being offered to you as birth control. That way, when you're back at your guesthouse, you can Google the brand and medical name for the pill. You could even send the picture to your PCP to have them 'okay' it if you want to be extra safe. You can then make a decision about what you'll feel best taking and return to purchase it as an informed consumer. This is a really important point if you want to know side effects, hormone dosage, etc. It will also ensure that you know better what you're taking...{see point #4}

4. Do your research. 

Southeast Asia is tourist central as of recent years. Everyone and their mother's uncle is there backpacking, volunteering with the elephants, or on a yoga retreat. The influx of tourists means a lot of things for both the culture and economy, one of them being: the morning after pill is sold often... If you go into a pharmacy simply asking for birth control, they may offer you the Plan B pill. Do your research, know medical names for medication, and {most importantly} know what you're looking for!  

No one should ever be afraid to seek out the information they need regarding their personal health! We're all in this together. xx

Feel free to ask any other questions in the comments below!