Contraceptives in China
I am sure I am not the only one who has balked at the prospect of craming a years supply of clothes, chocolates, toiletries and various pills, and medicines into a laughably small suitcase in preparation for coming to China. So it might come as some comfort to know that there is one thing that can be freely and cheaply purchased at any Chinese chemist - the contraceptive pill.
I recently discovered the wonders of the Chinese chemist. It cam as something of a revelation when I found out that along with antibiotics and cold medicine, the contraceptive pill is available for purchase in China without seeing a doctor or getting a prescription. The three brands that are most widely available - at least in Qingdao - are Marvelon (28 RMB for a one month supply), Diane (68 yuan for a one month supply) and Yasmin (158 RMB for a one month supply). You can buy more than one pack at a time if neccessary. The morning-after pill is also available over the counter for around 60 RMB.
Because the pill is so easily accessible in China, it comes as somewhat of a surprise that only 1.2% of Chinese women take oral contraceptives while China continues to have one of the highest rates of abortion in the world. In 2013, China National Health and Family Planning Commission reported that 13 million abortions are conducted in China each year, or 1 abortion for every 100 people. 65% of abortions are carried out on young, unmarried women between the ages of 20 and 29.
Everyone knows that the pill does not protect against STDs, though, so are people in China relying on condoms instead? Unfortunatly, despite the availability of condoms at every corner store, the use of condoms is comparately low in China. The Economist reported that in 2015 just 10% of mainland Chinese who are sexually active are regular condom users. In contrast, 50% of Hong Kongers regularly use condoms.
Since the percentage of sexually active people in China using condoms is small, the rise of STDs is not. Although rates are still low compared with countries such as India, HIV/AIDS rates have seen a notable increase in China; state media reported that 104,000 people were diagnosed with the disease in 2014， a 14% increase from 2013. A total of 810,000 people are estimated to be living with the disease in China.
These lamentable statistics stem from the fact that sex education, despite being compulsory in Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea, is at best sporadic in China, with no standardised curriculum and often an emphasis on abstinence over safe sex pratices. CNN reported in 2014 that 88% of Chinese people polled in a survey said they learned about sex on their own.
While I am no doctor, it is useful to know your options, and remember to practice safe sex, especially with Valentine Day around the corner.
Source: Rachel Ashe, Redstar, February 2016