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. It also forces you into somewhat unsettling situations with unfamiliar faces and customs that will impact your experience in both positive and negative ways.
One important and often not-talked-about aspect of studying abroad is one that affects a majority of participants – birth control. In the 2016-17 school year, women accounted for more than two-thirds of American students studying abroad; that’s a lot of women! Which is why it’s super important that women-identifying participants on study abroad programs are aware of how to protect themselves and others when they’re far from home.
Luckily, I’m here to give you a quick guide on how to get your birth control delivered while you’re studying abroad. Read on for this essential info!
- 1. First things first, when you’re traveling, your body gets out of whack in terms of hormones, sleep, exercise, and eating. It’s important that you adjust the time you normally take the pill depending on which time zone you’re in and where you’re going from there.
- 2. 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 so you don’t run out of your prescription if plans change or flights are delayed.
- 3. BE CAREFUL when picking up medications in other countries. They may not provide the specific brand or formula your body is used to taking and they may charge you a lot of money because you’re a foreigner.
- 4. Unless you’re studying abroad for a year, most programs last about 5-6 months (the equivalent of one semester in the States). Take note of how long you’ll be gone and plan accordingly in the months leading up to your departure so you know 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.)
- 5. Unless you have the IUD or the implant, it’s smart to consider the size and weight of the birth control you’ll be bringing. Not only will you be carrying it with you the majority of the time (especially when you’re traveling) but you’ll want to keep track of how many packs or rings you’ve gone through, the durability of the items, and their expiration dates.
- 6. Not having to deal with a period while abroad is safe, natural, and hassle-free especially if you’re planning on visiting other cities and countries during your program. If you’re on the pill, just skip the sugar pills and start the first week of your new pack immediately. If you use the ring, change it out on the same day each month or every 4 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.
So, there you have it! Some quick tips for studying abroad while on birth control. 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 supply shipped to you at no charge. Have fun on all your study abroad adventures!
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.