In the first of a two-part series on sexual health, Time Out presents a complete guide to contraception and abortion services in Shanghai
Aside from condoms, which are widely sold at convenience stores and local pharmacies, the two main birth control methods available here are the oestrogen-progesterone pill (combined pill) and the IUD (intra-uterine device or coil). Other methods including the contraceptive patch, contraceptive ‘Depo-Provera’ injection, contraceptive implants such as Norplant and the IUS aren’t yet readily available in China.
Where to go Local pharmacies, although beware there have been reports on online forums of fake birth control pills being sold, so be sure to check the packaging thoroughly. Another option is to get them prescribed by a private clinic at an in-house pharmacy, such as Global Healthcare (see IUD, right).
Prescription required? Not for local pharmacies.
What to ask for Bìyùn yào, 避孕药
Brands Marvelon (Māfù long, 妈富隆, 23RMB/month’s supply); Yasmin (Yōusīmíng, 优思明, 69RMB/month’s supply); Diane (Dáyīng, 达英, 138RMB/month’s supply).
Additional information If your regular pill isn’t available and you’re considering switching to a local alternative, look for one with similar oestrogen levels (these should be listed in the instructions) to avoid side-effects such as weight gain, mood swings and skin problems. For first-timers, a contraceptive consultation at a private clinic is advised, especially if you have a family history of thrombosis.
Where to go The following clinics will all fit IUDs following a contraception consultation. While local clinics are considerably cheaper, there’s little or no English spoken, so if your language skills aren’t up to much, consider taking a Chinese speaker with you. Please note that the clinics below have been listed on an information only basis and are not necessarily recommendations.
, 1515 Nanjing Xi Lu, near Tongren Lu
. Up to 5,000RMB (depending on type of coil) plus 1,100RMB consultation fee; fitting carried out at a local referral hospital such as Renji, accompanied by an English-speaking nurse.See full address details
Additional information Depending on the specific type, an IUD should last between five and ten years and is suitable for everyone – you don’t need to have given birth before having one fitted. IUDs can also be used as a form of emergency contraception if fitted up to five days after unprotected intercourse.
Where to go Local pharmacies.
Prescription required? No.
What to ask for Jǐnjí bìyùn yào, 紧急避孕药
Brands Plan B One-Step, 44RMB/pack; Yù Tíng, 毓婷, 31RMB/pack
Additional information Plan B is a single pill to be taken within 72 hours of unprotected intercourse; beware that it’s more effective the earlier you take it. Yu Ting is a four-pill procedure – take the first two as soon as possible, and then the remaining two 12 hours later. It’s effective up to 72 hours following unprotected intercourse.
As none of Shanghai’s international clinics are licensed to provide abortions, options are limited to local hospitals and clinics. Due to the one-child policy, abortions are one of the most commonly performed procedures, meaning that you can expect a quick, professional and emotionally detached experience and you won’t be required to attend counselling sessions (though these are available, see Counselling services, below).
For pregnancies under eight weeks, you’ll generally be offered the option of a medical abortion, which involves taking the abortion pill Misoprotosol. For more advanced pregnancies (up to around 12 weeks) a surgical abortion under general anaesthetic is required, which takes around five minutes. Neither procedure requires an overnight stay in hospital.
Where to go Most of Shanghai’s larger hospitals provide abortion services; check in advance if they have a specialist obstetrics and gynaecology department (fuyou baojian yiyuan, 妇幼保健医院). We’ve listed three of the biggest and best known options below, however please note these are not necessarily recommendations.
What to ask for Réngōng liú chǎn 人工流产 (abortion); yào wù liú chǎn 药物流产 (medical abortion); wú tòng rén liú 无痛人流 (surgical abortion).