I am going to make a claim that may sound incredulous to many of you.
Married people have sex.
I know. I know. It is hard to believe. Some more than others but the fact remains the same. There is one thing on my brain for our oncoming trip – travel and contraceptives.
Shaun and I are going to be on the road for quite some time and I have some concerns in regards to keeping my womb a baby free zone. While I have nothing against those of you who travel with children, we just choose to keep it just the two of us until further notice (if not forever). Other than pregnancy fears, I’m already trying to figure out how we are going to even finagle us time while we hostel and Couchsurf our way through Central/South America.
I feel as though this is an important conversation to have in the travel community and it not talked about much. I know about the backpacker trail. I’m sure many of you are very familiar with forms of contraception. So here we go:
Before we head out on our extended trip, I am going to have to go through that all too familiar visit to my OBGYN. Most women are familiar with this visit – complete with the awkward pokes, prods, and the cold metal “duck”. I’m currently looking at my choices for our upcoming trip so I thought I would give the long and skinny in regards to the most common forms of birth control that are possible for our lifestyle.
Please note that I am not a medical professional and these observations are my opinion only.
No. Not going to do it. I’ll be celibate on another trip sometime (yeah, right).
I used to be an avid user of the aforementioned form of birth control until I realized I’m terribly forgetful and that is not something to take lightly when it comes to a contraceptive that needs you to be punctual. The hard thing about birth control pills is that most pharmacies will not sell you more than a few months at any given time. Unless you can be buddy buddy with your doctor to have them help you beat the system or give you a million free samples, this just isn’t a viable option.
While I’ve had a few friends that have had terrible experiences with this form of birth control, I would be good for 3 months and then left out in the cold when it came to protection.
While this is the preferred choice of many and has proven to be tried and true, I am terribly allergic to latex (tragic, I know). I do realize that they make them out of other materials now, but what happens when we cannot find them when out? I know for most people condoms are used for STD and pregnancy prevention so this option is often used on top of another option or stand alone. How many condoms do you, as a backpacker or traveler in general, keep on your persons?
I think this definitely has the opportunity to be a female traveler’s best friend because it lasts for 3 years. The down side to this is that most insurance companies in the U.S. do not cover the product and can cost hundreds of dollars. Besides my terrible fear of needles and things cutting into me, this is definitely on the “maybe” list.
This form also lasts quite a while. Depending on if you go for something like Mirena or the copper version, you are looking at 5-12 years of pregnancy prevention. Most insurance companies have stopped providing coverage for this as well (I have had very heated conversations with my insurance providers). I think Shaun and I are going to bite the bullet and get this procedure done. The final price will be a staggering $800. Technically I will save money on birth control over the period of those 5 years but paying the cash upfront is demoralizing.
Important notes about ANY form of birth control in Central/South America:
Due to the religious and political atmosphere where abstinence is looked at as the only way to prevent pregnancy, getting contraceptives in South America can prove to be difficult.
The malaria pill, doxycycline, is an antibiotic that may have the capability to mess with your birth control.
So food for thought while you plan for your next trip down to South America. Contraceptive measures didn’t occur to me until I was preparing for our trip and I think it is quite an important conversation to have before you leave the country for any extended period of time.
Have you been to Central/South America? What was it like getting contraceptives?