Up until four months ago my birth control routine and my period were the biggest inconveniences in my travels. After years of traveling with and without my period, dealing with the awkwardness of being unprepared when my period surprised me in a foreign country, fighting with painful and uncomfortable cramps, and setting alarms in every time zone to remind me to take my pill, I had finally had enough.
I distinctly remember the exact moment when I decided that I could no longer keep taking daily birth control pills while I was abroad. I was in the Maldives, a time zone ten hours ahead from my hometown, and waking up at 4 o’clock in the morning to take my birth control pills in order to maintain my schedule. After an exhausting few days, I vowed to make a change.
Aside from the inconvenience of having to wake up at odd hours to take the pill, birth control is problematic for other reasons while traveling. Usually, you have to stock up with enough boxes to last you your entire trip, which can be expensive, and if for whatever reason you weren’t able to stock up enough beforehand, you’ll be faced with the task of trying to find the same brand of birth control in a foreign country. A usually impossible, or incredibly expensive task. In North America, birth control requires a prescription, which means you need to have seen a doctor somewhat recently, which can be difficult for those pursuing long-term travel. And while there are other countries who do sell birth control over the counter, finding a similar pill to yours can take a lot of trial and error, which means dealing with the side effects of all kinds of different hormonal cocktails.
After doing extensive research and weighing the pros and cons of all the available options, I made the decision to have an IUD inserted.
You can read more about my entire experience getting the IUD put in HERE.
For those of you who don’t know, an IUD, or an intrauterine device, is a small t-shaped device that’s inserted into the cervix by a doctor and replaced every 3-5 years, depending on the brand, preventing pregnancy with an efficiency rate of over 99%.
There were a variety of different factors that steered me towards the IUD, however, the final push that I needed was during that Maldives trip. As I’ve been traveling more and more I decided that I really couldn’t have my period inconveniencing me every single month.
The main two reasons I went with the IUD were: 1) you don’t have to do anything and 2) most women who have an IUD inserted lose their periods completely.
The idea of just putting in an IUD and not having to worry about it again for another three years was appealing to me because, as I’ve already said, remembering to pack your birth control and take it every single day when you’re supposed to be adventuring in a foreign land, is a hassle. The IUD is fool-proof. There is nothing to remember, no work to be done on your part. It really is as simple as inserting it and forgetting all about it. My IUD gave me something that birth control pills never could, and that was peace of mind.
Losing my period was an amazing added bonus. It’s a blessing to know that I never have to be on the beach and be self-conscious that mother nature is going to show up at any second to embarrass me. The fact that I no longer have to deal with cramps or worry about bringing tampons with me everywhere I go is a huge weight off of my shoulders.
Above everything, my IUD gave me control over my entire body. Being able to be in control of every part of me has made traveling less stressful and it’s made me more confident.
And that’s why my IUD has become my most important piece of travel equipment.
While I have had a really good experience with my IUD and obviously recommend it very highly, everybody is different and an IUD isn’t for everyone. It’s important to seek professional medical advice before deciding to make any changes to your current medication routine.