Tips for women travellers
This article is a travel topic
This article contains some general tips for women travelers. Tips for women at individual destinations (such as, say, appropriate dress when visiting a temple, especially safety issues) are addressed in those articles. This article covers more general issues for women travelers.
Women planning to be sexually active with men during their travels may want to consider taking steps to prevent an unplanned pregnancy. Follow your usual contraceptive measures, but take into account any difficulty you might have obtaining contraception:
You might wish to consider longer term contraception for a long trip, such as contraceptive injections (effective for about 3 months), hormone releasing implants (effective for about 3 to 5 years) and intrauterine devices (effective for about 5 to 10 years). These typically require a doctor to administer them and possibly minor surgery, so plan them well in advance of your trip.
Just as at home, safer sex methods (condoms for sex with men, and dental dams for sex with other women) should be used if women want to reduce any risk of being infected with, or infecting someone else with, a sexually transmitted disease. The only method capable of 100% protection against all sexually transmitted diseases is abstinence.
Barrier protection such as condoms may not be manufactured to an appropriate quality in all countries, or might not be available for easy sale to women. You should bring a supply from home (watch the use-by dates!)
There are a number of health issues that women who are planning to travel while pregnant should consider, and discuss with their doctor or health provider as needed:
Check that pregnancy related illness, childbirth itself and medical care for a baby born while travelling are covered by your travel insurance if you're outside the reach of your normal healthcare arrangements. Pregnancy is usually considered to be a pre-existing medical condition that you must disclose to your insurer, and which will have limited coverage, particularly after the 30th week. Pregnancies that you don't know about at the time of application might not be covered. Read your travel insurance documents carefully.
No policies cover expenses associated with a full term birth. Some may cover a very premature birth but then may not cover the baby's healthcare costs (which would likely be considerable).
Most travel insurance policies do not cover multiple pregnancies (twins, triplets etc) or any pregnancy that is the result of medically assisted conception (fertility drugs, IVF etc) even with an additional premium. If you do get cover for a higher risk pregnancy it will not extend as far into the pregnancy as cover for a naturally conceived or singleton pregnancy; it will probably only extend to 15 or 20 weeks. It is close to impossible to get cover for any pregnancy that has already had complications.
Remember that you can't just "fail to mention" pregnancy (or any other information) to an insurer: failing to disclose relevant information invalidates the policy.
Remember to wear cotton underwear. Synthetics encourage fungal infection. If you do end up with a bout of thrush, eating yoghurt containing the acidophilus bacteria can be helpful (it will be the sour "natural" kind of yoghurt; in many countries, acidophilus cultures are advertised on the label).
Many women travelling for an extended period of time will have their period while travelling. Some extra preparation might be needed to deal with it.
For women doing extended travel in areas where obtaining and disposing of normal menstrual products is annoying, consider reusable menstrual products. The primary products in this category are the suction cups: the silicone Diva Cup and the rubber Keeper. These are non-absorbant, reusable and do not even need to be rinsed before re-insertion every time.
Some women travelers (particularly athletes and honeymooners, but others too) might consider using the contraceptive pill to postpone or skip a period. Extended cycle pills such as Seasonale (one period every three months, rather than every 28 days) are approved for use in some countries, however normal monophasic pills can be used to skip periods as well, by skipping the different coloured sugar placebo pills. Discuss this use with your prescribing doctor.
While travelling, the best option may be to wax. Often it is cheaper in developing countries where this is the primary form of removal. When seeking cheap locations, try to inquire about a "Little India" in major cities. This is a part of town where most of the shops, including salons, are owned and shopped at by Indian people, where waxing will inevitably be considerably cheaper.