You know what they say; a pill a day keeps the baby away. Well, 99% of the time when used 100% correctly. We’re talking about the oral contraceptive pill, and if you’re an Australian woman of reproductive age (15-49), chances are you’ve considered taking oral contraceptives at some stage of your life.
As you probably learned during sex education, the pill is easily accessible, reasonably affordable and highly effective when used perfectly (an efficacy that sure beats the withdrawal method). That may be why it’s the oral contraceptive pill is the most popular method of birth control used by Australian women, with 33% of us making it our go-to option for around-the-clock pregnancy protection.
But, with barriers of shame, affordability, and accessibility, it isn’t all sunshine and lollipops for women in countries beyond Australia’s shoreline. So, let’s take a closer look at how easy it is to access the oral contraceptive pill in different countries around the world.
Accessing the birth control pill in Indonesia
In Indonesia of southern Asia, easy access to oral contraception is considered a basic human right. For married women, that is. If you’ve tied the knot with your significant other and have no prescription or healthcare insurance, then you’ll experience no problems in buying the oral contraceptive pill at a local pharmacy.
However, if your relationship status sits outside the marriage bubble, premarital sexual endeavours are unsupported, especially amongst the religious population.
Despite this resistance and poor access for the singles who love to mingle, the oral contraceptive pill rates as the most popular form of contraception in Indonesia at 64%, with IUDs (20%), injectables (8%), and male condoms (6%) to follow.
In Indonesia, the pill is reasonably affordable at the equivalent of a few Australian dollars.
Accessing the birth control pill in Japan
Known as the ‘pi-ru’, access to the oral contraceptive pill in Japan was only legalised in 1999. That’s four decades after it became available in the West, and shockingly after Viagra was legalised.
Current trends suggest the prevalence of oral contraceptive use remains low in Japan, with male condoms leading the way as the most common method of preventing unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
To access the pill, women in Japan must visit their ob-gyn to obtain a script before visiting the pharmacy where they can expect to pay ¥2,000-3,000 ($25-40AUD) for their monthly supply.
This care-free cost of modern contraceptives isn’t covered by Japanese health insurance, proving Japan still has a long way to go to improve services of family planning for future generations.
Accessing the birth control pill in China
You may have heard a thing or two about China’s ‘One-Child Policy’. It’s because of this policy that access to family planning in China has been strongly encouraged by the government for decades.
There’s no stigma attached to the practice of safe sex. However, oral contraceptives account for only 8.2% of contraceptive methods used, with IUD insertion (50.2%), tubal ligation (25.4%) and male sterilisation (10%) being the preferred contraception front-runners.
China offers married couples a wide spectrum of private and public healthcare options, and contraceptives are available without prescription or age restriction. Depending on the pharmacy, prices range from 23rmb through to 138rmb.
So, whilst China is ahead of most countries in providing safe sex methods for married couples, premarital sex remains social taboo. That means young people wishing to engage in the deed may fall through the cracks of contraception access and sexual education.
Accessing the birth control pill in America
The one-pill-a-day movement is going strong in America, with 14% of women currently choosing the oral pill as their preferred contraceptive method. The most popular type of birth control used in the US is female sterilisation at 18.1%.
Access to the pill in America varies by state, however most states allow women under the age of 18 to purchase birth control without parental permission.
The Affordable Care Act – commonly known as Obamacare – states that most insurance plans must cover the cost of contraceptives. Without insurance, American women can expect to pay the cost of a doctor’s visit, plus the ongoing total cost of the pill – up to 50 big ones each month.
Accessing the birth control pill in France
In a move to ensure young women don’t stop taking contraceptives simply because they cannot afford them, a scheme to provide free birth control for all women under the age of 25 was introduced to France of western Europe in 2021.
Six years prior, in 2015, The Health Act Law introduced a ‘no questions asked’ policy regarding the access of oral contraceptive methods, including emergency contraception.
It’s fair to say that France is one of the most forward-thinking countries to make hormonal contraception widely available, provided women have a doctor’s prescription in hand.
Depending on the brand of birth control pill, prices range from €2 – €15 for a month’s supply, with social security covering up to 65% of the cost. A collective sigh of relief for the women of France!
Accessing the birth control pill in The UK
When it comes to family planning, the UK really goes above and beyond with the National Health Service (NHS) supplying the pill, free of charge, since it was introduced in 1961 – we’ll cheers to that.
Contraception services are completely confidential, including for girls under 16 years of age, unless there’s an associated health risk. British women can fulfil their complimentary contraceptive needs at most GP surgeries, community contraceptive clinics, sexual health clinics and youth services.
Accessing the birth control pill in Canada
In 2015, an estimated 1.3 million (16%) women in Canada reported taking oral contraception.
To access the pill, Canadian women can visit their doctor for a prescription and collect the pill from a pharmacy for $20-35/month, or sexual health clinic for $7-23/month.
Alternatively, a script can be organised via online contraception subscription websites, however digital medicine services generally aren’t covered by health insurance, and a prescription will set women back an extra $40 on top of the cost of the pill.
To remove the barrier of cost for young women in Canada, free and confidential access to contraception is available for under 25-ers.
Accessing the birth control pill in Iceland
With its number one spot on the global gender equality scale, health care inclusive of family planning services is free in Iceland. 35% of Icelandic women 20-40 years of age use either the pill or IUD for pregnancy-free peace of mind.
To get the birth control pill in Australia, Youly offers fast, easy, and convenient access to birth control delivered to your door. We even take care of your repeats, so you never have to visit the pharmacy again.
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