Medically reviewed by Sophia Yen, MD, MPH – Written by Pandia Health Editorial Team
Studying abroad is a fantastic way to get out of your comfort zone, learn about a different culture, and meet new people from around the globe. In many cases, this exciting journey can put you into somewhat unsettling situations with unfamiliar faces and customs.
One important and often not-talked-about aspect of studying abroad is birth control. In the 2016-17 school year, women accounted for more than two-thirds of American students studying abroad. With that said, it is necessary that women-identifying participants on study abroad programs are aware of how to protect themselves and others when they’re far from home.
Without further ado, here is a quick guide on how to manage your birth control during a study abroad program.
When you travel, your body may get out of whack in terms of hormones, sleep, exercise, and diet as a result of the new setting and potentially different time zone. Furthermore, you may need to adjust the time you normally take your birth control depending on where you are, .
When you’re on your way to your destination, pack any birth control or period-related items in your carry-on so you know you’ll have it with you on your flight. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends carrying copies of all your prescriptions when traveling to an unfamiliar place. Packing extra medication is also essential in order to prevent the risk of running out before you can contact your doctor for a new prescription.
BE CAREFUL when picking up medications in other countries. They may not provide the specific brand or formula your body is used to taking.
Take note of how long you’ll be gone and plan accordingly in the months leading up to your departure. This will allow you to determine how many extra packs of the pill, patch or ring you’ll need. (Hint: Pandia Health delivers up to a year’s worth of birth control to your front door for free! If you’re planning on traveling for an extended period of time, this is an excellent way to ensure you’ll be protected.)
Unless you have the IUD or the implant, it’s smart to consider the size and weight of the birth control you plan to bring. Being that you may be traveling for an extended period of time, it’s a best practice to keep track of how many packs you’ve gone through, the durability of the items, and their expiration dates.
Not having to deal with a period while abroad is safe, natural, and hassle-free. If you’re on the pill, just skip the row of sugar pills and start the first week of your next pack immediately. If you use the ring, change it out on the same day each month or every four weeks. (Note: the ring can be conserved at room temperature for four months – the country you’re traveling to will likely have a different climate than what you’re used to so plan accordingly!) #PeriodsOptional.
Interested in skipping your period and/or getting your contraception delivered directly to you for free? Join the Pandia Health community and get up to a year’s worth of birth control packs shipped to you at no charge.
Enjoy your study abroad adventures!
Not sure where to start when planning your semester abroad? Check out Spanish Studies Abroad, an organization that provides North American students with unique learning experiences in Spanish-speaking countries. Whether you want to take a quick trip during your school’s break or you hope to immerse yourself into a new country for an extended period, Spanish Studies Abroad has an option for you. With a curriculum designed to maximize language acquisition and engagement in the local culture, you can be confident that you will have a memorable, productive journey.
Disclaimer: The above information is for general informational purposes only and is NOT a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your doctor/primary care provider before starting or changing treatment.