So your yearlong stash of Alesse has finally run out, and now you’re in search of birth control in China. Here’s everything you need to know.
The main type of birth control available in China is combination pills, meaning they contain a blend of progesterone and estrogen to stop the ovaries from releasing eggs.
The oral contraceptives listed on the following page all contain some form of synthetic progesterone and ethyl estradiol, a synthetic form of estrogen.
Where to Buy?
Oral contraceptives can be purchased without a prescription at Chinese drug stores or even on Meituan. Search yaofang 药房 on Dianping to find your nearest drugstore or maiyao 买药 on Meituan.
What brands are available?
The four most common brands are: Yasmin, Yaz, Diane-35 and Marvelon. The first three are all produced by Bayer – a well-known German pharmaceutical company – while Marvelon is produced by MSD, a US-based pharmaceutical company.
What is Plan B or the ‘day after pill’ called in China?
Postinor (baoshiting 保仕婷), costs around RMB50. It contains one 1.5 milligram dose of levonorgestrel and no prescription is needed.
*Prices vary at different retailers.
Four Common Birth Control Brands
Yasmin | yōu sī míng, 优思明
• 21 total pills
• This is a combination pill comprised of 3mg of drospirenone + 30mcg of ethinyl estradiol.
Yaz | yōu sī yuè, 优思悦 (low-dose Yasmin, comes in a blue box)
• There are 28 pills in total, 24 hormone pills and 4 sugar (non-hormonal) pills
• Each pill contains 3 mg drospirenone + 20mcg ethinyl estradiol
• Contains a lower dose of estrogen than Yasmin, which may be more beneficial for women who are sensitive to hormones
Diane-35 | dá yīng 达英-35
• 21 total pills
• 2mg of cyproterone acetate and 35 mcg of ethinyl estradiol
Marvelon | mā fù lóng 妈富隆
• 21 total pills
• 0.15mg desogestrel and 30mcg ethinyl estradiol.
We asked Dr. Yvette Kong, gynecologist and Chief of Gynecology Department at SinoUnited Health some common concerns via email.
Do you need to take the pill at the same time every day?
If you take a progesterone-only oral contraceptive pill (OCP), you have to take it exactly at the same time every day not even beyond three hours. But if you take combined oral contraceptives with estrogen and progesterone, the time is not as strict, just take one a day.
What to do when you miss a pill? Take two or just skip the whole pack?
Most people take combined oral contraceptive pills (COC). If a single pill is missed, women should take the missed pill as soon as it is noticed and then continue taking one pill each day later. Depending on when she remembers her missed pill, she may end up taking two pills on the same day.
How does the day-after pill differ from birth control?
The day-after pill is an emergency pill that can only be used occasionally. It should not be regularly used like birth control. It is over the counter (OTC) and no prescription is needed for one dose of 1.5mg levonorgestrel or two 0.75mg doses, 12 hours apart. It might cause abnormal vaginal bleeding and irregular menstruation.
Is breakthrough bleeding on the pill normal?
Breakthrough bleeding is the most common early side effect after combined oral contraception initiation, affecting 50% of women during the first cycle of use and quickly improving over subsequent months. However, breakthrough bleeding doesn’t decrease contraceptive efficacy.
Which birth control brand is the ‘best’?
Yasmin and Yaz are good for those with severe facial acne and are less likely to cause weight gain.
> To note, different brands may work differently and have various effects on individuals. Please consult your health professional before purchasing.
[Cover image via Canva]