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  » Advice for travelers  »  Contraception and Travel

Women travelling or living for prolonged periods abroad should be advised to find out what contraceptive services are available to them in the country/countries they are visiting. The International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) and the Family Planning Association of Britain can provide extra information..

The Combined Oral Contraceptive Pill
Stomach upsets and severe diarrhoea reduce absorption and may leave inadequate protection. If vomiting occurs within three hours of taking the Pill a barrier method should be used as well, throughout the stomach upset and for seven days after it has ended i.e. 'the seven day rule'.

Some broad-spectrum antibiotics, e.g. doxycycline, may reduce their efficacy. This normally only occurs for the first 3 weeks of taking Doxycycline. The Family Planning Association advice is that additional contraceptive precautions should be taken whilst on a short course of broad-spectrum antibiotics and for 7 days after stopping

The Progestrogen only Pill (POP)
For women taking the progestrogen only Pill the same rules apply as with the combined Pill. It is slightly less effective, 96 - 98%, and must be taken at the same time each day - this can pose problems when crossing time zones. However, it does have the advantage of not being affected by antibiotics.

Injectable methods of contraception (Depo-Provera and Noristerat)
Injectable contraception is not affected by time zones, gastrointestinal upsets and antibiotics.

Condoms
Reliable condoms are often hard to find in the poorer parts of the world.
If the condoms carry the British Kite Mark or the new European CE mark it means that they have been tested to a strict safety standard.
Rubber perishes with age, and heat, and should be discarded if it displays any signs of being brittle, sticky or discoloured.

Diaphragms/caps
They should be stored in a cool dry place in an airtight container, severe heat can perish rubber.
Spermicides may loose their efficacy if not stored in cool, dry containers. Creams may melt and be difficult to apply and pessaries, which are designed to melt at body temperature, impossible to use.