I remember when I first boarded my plane to China I had the all the usual burning buy generic cialis questions running through my head: where would I live?; what would I eat?; would the men be attractive?
Much, much further down the list of concerns was the issue of contraception. Nevertheless, “How can I keep from getting preggers in China?” is a question that almost all single lao wai women will face at some point, and your faithful columnist is here to help.
Pretty much every option available to the westerner at home is also available in China. Perhaps the most obvious, and absurdly widely available, are condoms, both male and female.
In addition to being offered counter-side at every corner store and supermarket in the city, I’ve also observed condom dispensing machines along random city walls, presumably to provide for those always-alluring alleyway quickies.
But what about the judgement factor? Do all of those older Chinese women in the FamilyMarts think you’re a dirty slut when you buy condoms? Most probably, yes. Not to worry though, they already thought that because you’re a foreigner, so you might as well go ahead, and what the heck, grab a vibrator while you’re at it. Before we move on from the topic of condoms, allow me to quickly say: Jissbon? Really? Gross.
Various hormone treatments are also available in China. Personally, I’m on the regular pill and have been for five years. Back home, pretty much every woman having regular sex was on the pill, so I was surprised to find that many western women in China seem to feel uncomfortable swallowing hormones. I understand and appreciate this point of view, but I personally much prefer the pill to other, often more invasive, methods of hormonal contraception.
For instance, both IUDs (intrauterine devices) and IUSs (intrauterine systems) are copper or plastic devices that release hormones and can be left in the uterus for up to ten years. Both are available and actually quite popular in China. Other contraceptive methods such as vaginal rings, implants (roughly 4cm-long tubes inserted by a doctor under the skin of a woman’s upper arm), and injections are also available.
“Jissbon… Really? Gross.”
Where to get it?
Let’s start with the regular pill and the morning after pill. Personally, I’ve always been able to replenish my supply of the pill when I go back home, so I wasn’t quite sure where to go in China. My first move was to call Parkway Health (phone number: 6445 5999). The woman I spoke to from this pharmacy seemed quite oblivious to the idea of contraception:
LEXXX: “I would like the pill… the medicine for not getting pregnant”
… 5 minutes later…
Parkway Health: “So… you want baby?”
LEXXX: “No, I want to NOT have a baby”.
Next, I went down to my local pharmacy, which proved much more fruitful. Before I left I looked up the Chinese word for “birth control” 避孕药 (bi4 yun4 yao4) , and the pharmacist was able to help immediately. Both the regular pill and the morning after pill are available over-the-counter without prescription and are remarkably cheap. A month’s supply of the pill would cost me ¥ 22. They didn’t have my brand though, so before you go, I would recommend consulting the following site to find out what brands are comparable to the one you use : http://www.wdxcyber.com/ncontr13.htm.
What about the Chinese?
What about our Chinese friends? Obviously, birth control is a complicated and extremely important issue in China due to the one child policy. According to a survey conducted in 2001, IUDs are the most common method of birth control among Chinese women. Hospitals encourage women to get one put in as soon as they’ve had their first (and usually only) child. Both female and male sterilization is also very common and government subsidized.
More recently, the pill has gained significant popularity among Chinese women, although it is still not as popular as in the west because many Chinese believe ingesting hormones is not good for their body and health.
Condoms are also gaining popularity, especially among younger, more progressive Chinese. However, there is still a stigma attached to young people purchasing condoms, as the older Chinese generation still frowns heavily upon premarital sex.
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