Health Issues of Women Abroad
Being proactive with regards to travel health means gathering relevant information before you leave. Every woman should prepare for some eventualities regarding illness and health issues they may come across during their expat assignment.
Of course, you shouldn’t become timid but enjoy your expat experience instead of worrying about worst-case scenarios all the time. However, as some women abroad may have learned the hard way, it is sometimes better to hope for the best, but still know how to cope with the worst.
One last thing you need to take care of before embarking on your expat adventure: health insurance. In the hopefully unlikely case that you do suffer an injury or illness abroad, you should make sure that you have decent healthcare coverage.
Ask yourself the following questions when looking for a medical insurance provider:
- Have I read their insurance policy carefully?
- What exactly does the coverage include?
- Do I need travel insurance or an evacuation / repatriation plan in addition to my health insurance?
- Will I have access to a global 24/7 emergency hotline with staff that speaks my language?
- How can I carry sufficient proof of my insurance coverage with me all the time?
Obviously, the above-mentioned tips and provisions apply to expat men as well. However, as a woman you may have additional needs and concerns.
Birth Control and Family Planning
When it comes to contraception and reproductive issues, it pays off to do some research beforehand. Firstly, it might be a good idea to ask your ob/gyn if the time difference has any effect whatsoever on when to take your contraceptive pill. Also, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea – frequent side-effects of stressful travel or unfamiliar food – interfere with the efficiency of oral contraceptives, as do antibiotics.
For this reason alone, it would be wise to pack a supply of condoms and a pregnancy test if you want to be on the safe side. For an informed decision on birth control and family planning, remember to do some research on reproductive rights in your host country.
The legal and social situation concerning the availability of regular contraceptives, emergency contraception, and abortion can differ vastly. In case that you do suddenly face an unwanted pregnancy or even if a much-desired pregnancy goes horribly wrong, you should not only be aware of what you would want to do. Instead, you should also know what you could do. An English-speaking affiliate of Planned Parenthood in your new location can offer you counseling, support, and practical advice.