Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Birth Control in Malaysia

When I first moved to Malaysia, I needed to handle some essentials after being on the road for so long.  One such thing was birth control, and after painfully searching the internet for information on the availability and prescription status of such, I realized that most Malaysians are either woefully misinformed about birth control, or just really have no clue whatsoever.  (Seriously y'all it is scary out there... everything from girls saying they didn't want to take birth control to ruin future chances of getting pregnant to one guy saying women should just wash with water to not get pregnant.  Maybe some reform is needed in the sex ed department here, but I digress...)

So since I am used to playing the ignorant foreigner, I decided just to go in search of it, and see where it led me.  (Besides, I'm not the first of my friends to stand in a foreign country and mime "No baby" at the pharmacy.)

Maybe this picture would help any future endeavors... or just really confuse someone.

First stop was the drug store, Guardian here in Malaysia.  I searched around, and this one did not have a prescription area, so I figured my chances were slim, but I asked anyway, and sure enough, was denied.  I was however pointed in the direction of the actual pharmacy... about a 20 minute walk in the opposite direction from where I was staying.  (I was/am under the impression that if the drugstore has a pharmacy attached that you are able to get it.)

So, I headed to the pharmacy... which if you are in or planning to visit Cenang Beach Langkawi is located toward the airport from the beach (walking about 15 minutes from the main area, or just past the Pelangi Beach & Spa Resort and Laman Padi on the inland side of the road.  The pharmacy is in a strip of shops near a grocery store, at the intersection of Jalan Kuala Muda and Jalan Bohor Tempoyak.)  Once finding the pharmacy it was quite simple.  Birth control pills and the day after (or plan B) pill(s) are both available over the counter, and for a decent price.

So here is the breakdown:

Type: Standard 28 / 21 day oral contraceptive (birth control) pills 
Availability:  Over the counter, at a pharmacy*
Brands:  Marvelon, Mercilon, Gynera, Diane(35), Nordette, Novynette (will continue to add as I find out more**)
Cost:  Usually about 20-30 MYR (about $6-10 US) for a month's supply

photo credit: The Guardian

Type:  Emergency Hormonal Contraception (aka - ECP, EHC, day after pill, plan B)
Availability:  Over the counter, at a pharmacy*, but I have read/heard that they are also available at any Guardian, Watsons, or Vitacare (this may be only if there is a pharmacy attached)
Brands: Postinor, Postinor-2 (will continue to add as I find out more**)
Cost:  About 4-5 MYR (or $1-2 US)
Note:  Sold in 2 packs (apparently they used to be sold in larger packs, but due to misuse are now sold in single doses - it is what the internets tell me anyway)

*A doctor's note/visit is NOT required*
**If you have any info to add please leave a comment below or message me, 
and I will be happy to update the post.**

So, long story short... birth control is readily available if you need it and know what you need.  I recommend seeing a doctor if you are unsure of what to take, or it is your first time taking birth control.  (gratuitous disclaimer.)

Anyways, I hope this helps those of you travelers and expats looking to solve your birth control woes... no need to mime "no baby" at your neighborhood pharmacy.  Stay safe out there!


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