Medically reviewed by Sophia Yen, MD, MPH – Written by Pandia Health Editorial Team. Updated on March 25, 2021
Pull out those swimsuits, ladies, because summer is just around the corner! Whether you’re road-tripping to the nearest beach, finally taking that dream trip to Thailand, or just visiting friends, it’s a great time to see new places and try new things.
But one new experience you don’t want this summer is forgetting your birth control and not knowing how to get a refill. That’s the last thing I would want to be worrying about on a romantic getaway.
Lucky for you, Pandia Health is here to help! The key to a stress-free vacation is all in the planning, and that goes for your birth control too. Here are our biggest tips for making sure you’re covered on all your summer trips – and what to do if you forget.
Before You Go
If you know you’re going to be out of town when your refill is scheduled to arrive, see if you can get your delivery early or get extra packs. Depending on what your insurance will cover and your state allows, Pandia Health can deliver up to a 1-year supply at a time (only in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington + DC). Make sure you have enough medication to last until you get home. I always take an extra pack with me, too, just to be safe.
If you are traveling within the US, you can also just change your delivery location. Pandia Health makes it easy to change your shipping address, so you don’t have to worry about calling your pharmacy and your gynecologist/provider, or tracking down a pharmacy in an unfamiliar city – you can get your pills delivered right to your Airbnb, VRBO, or hotel!
Pro tip: Be sure to keep your birth control – and any other medication you need – in your carry-on bag or purse. You don’t want to risk losing your pills, patch, or ring if your luggage gets lost in transit.
If You Forgot to pack your birth control…
Don’t worry, it happens. We’ve all been too busy planning our most Insta-worthy outfits, and forgot the basics. So what do you do? As soon as you realize you don’t have enough medication to last your trip, put in a request with Pandia Health (aka your birth control delivery service) to change the delivery address for your next shipment or call your doctor/provider to call in a prescription to a pharmacy near you.
If you’re traveling to Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, Nevada, New York, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, or Wyoming Pandia Health’s Medical Group offers you online doctor visits for a birth control prescription – get your birth control under control while you’re on vacation!
And if you miss a pill or two, it’s not the end of the world. Just be sure to use condoms or another method of protection if you plan on having sex. It’s a good idea to bring some emergency contraception along as the ultimate backup. If you miss 3 pills or 3 days of the patch/ring in a row and you had sex within the past 5 days, you’ll want to consider emergency contraception to prevent pregnancy. And you should abstain from sex for the next 5 days or use a condom.
International Travel – Over the Counter birth control
Depending on where you’re traveling, birth control can be anywhere from very easy to impossible to access. Do your research and plan ahead. In some countries, like China, India, and Mexico, you can buy birth control over the counter at any pharmacy, no prescription required.
For a map of which countries have OTC birth control pills go here. In some less developed or hyper-religious countries, hormonal contraception is illegal or can be very difficult to access. But even in countries where you can get a prescription, I’d rather not spend my vacation navigating another country’s health care system. Given the choice, I’d prefer to have the pill that I am used to, which may not have an exact counterpart abroad. If you’re planning an overseas trip this summer, put birth control on your pre-trip checklist, and make sure you have enough to last through your entire trip.
If you do find yourself in need of a prescription overseas, the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers can help connect you with an English-speaking doctor and get access to foreign health care. You can also talk to your regular healthcare provider to decide what’s the best substitution.
When to Take Your Birth Control Pill, Patch, or Ring
If your trip takes you into a different time zone, you need to consider the timing of your pill. In order to be properly protected, it’s important that you stick to roughly the same schedule. So, for example, if you normally take your pill at 8 am PST, you would need to take it at 5 pm in Paris. If the time shift would have you taking your combined birth control pill (so NOT a progesterone-only pill) at an inconvenient time, like the middle of the night, you can shift the time by 12 hrs each day (forward or back) until it hits a time you like. You do NOT want more than 24 hours since the last time you took a pill or between pills. With Progesterone Only Pills, best to keep taking it at the same time every day, regardless of time zone (sorry) or using/assing another method (condoms, abstain from sex) on top to be safe.
With all that goes into planning a trip, no one wants to worry about packing feminine hygiene supplies as well. And because you don’t have to have your period, why not skip the hassle and have a period free summer! Wear that white sundress with confidence that random blood won’t be hitting you! All you have to do is skip the placebo pills at the end of your pill pack and go right on to the next pack’s active pills. Don’t worry about concealing tampons in all your bags, staining sheets, or packing granny period panties – and opt-in to a #NoPeriodSummer!
Frequently Asked Questions
What happens if you lose a birth control pill?
This happens a lot. It falls on the ground or in the sink. Generally, just take the next pill in the pack.
Can you take birth control on a plane?
Yes. it’s smart to take a pack on the plane and 1 in your bag. That way if your bag gets lost, you still have a pack. Also, know that you can ALWAYS call your doctor and ask them to call in an emergency pack if you are in the US.
how to skip period on birth control for vacation?
If you’re already on the pill, patch, ring, just SKIP the placebo/bleeding week and go straight into your next pack, patch, or for the ring, just keep it in for 1 more week and start a new ring immediately. (The ring has 35 days of medicine in it.)
If you are not on hormonal contraception currently, consider starting hormonal contraception (pill, patch, ring) at least 3 months before your special occasion to let your body get used to it and to find the one that works best for you.
If you are less than 1 month away from your wedding, you can ask a doctor to prescribe norethindrone 5mg, 3 times a day starting 3 days before your anticipated period/bleed date and keep it going until you can bleed e.g. after your honeymoon if your honeymoon is immediately after your wedding. However, side effects include: bloating 1-2 lbs, low sex drive, upset stomach.
how to delay period for vacation without hormones?
TLDR: there is no way to do that. You have to use hormones to delay your period.
How to skip a period on birth control for a vacation?
When planning a trip, no one wants to worry about packing or forgetting their feminine hygiene products. Because you don't have to have your period every month, you can prevent the hassle and skip or delay your period while on vacation! All you have to do is skip the placebo pills at the end of your pill pack and go right on to the next pack’s active pills. Or leave the birth control ring in for an extra week. Or put on a patch, instead of going patchless (bleeding week). However, if you’re not on already on hormonal birth control, you can ask your doctor to prescribe norethindrone 3 times a day until you want to bleed.
How to delay your period for vacation without birth control?
If you don't take birth control regularly, but would like to delay your period for a vacation or special occasion, your doctor may be able to prescribe norethisterone (also known as norethindrone), a type of progestin that is very similar to the female hormone progesterone. It is commonly used to help manage heavy or painful periods and can also be prescribed to delay a period for a special occasion. During menstruation, a drop in progesterone levels causes the uterine lining to shed. However, if progesterone is taken throughout your period, those levels do not drop, preventing menstruation.
How to resume birth control pills after skipping on a vacation?
If you opted to skip your birth control pills entirely while on vacation, it's important that you take your hormonal birth control pills ASAP and then continue taking pills daily. You must also seek out additional birth control methods or abstain from sex until you've taken hormonal (active) birth control pills for 7 days in a row.
If you skipped the non-hormonal pills (the last week of pills/bleeding pills/iron pills), continue as scheduled and start a new pack of birth control pills. You shouldn't go more than seven consecutive active pill-free days between packs; otherwise you are at risk of pregnancy and need to get emergency contraception or use a a backup or abstain from sex.
What to do when you always forget your birth control pill?
If you missed one pill, take it as soon as you remember. If you missed 2 days of pills in a row, take 2 today and 2 tomorrow. An easy way to remember to take your pill is to make it part of your daily routine, taking it at the same time every day. If that doesn't work, try setting an alarm (or multiple alarms) on your phone to remind you. If you ALWAYS forget your pill, consider the IUDs, implant, shot, ring, patches instead.
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.