The pill is used by women all over the world, but what are your options when living in the UAE?

There are many misconceptions about birth control in the UAE. While cohabitating outside of marriage is illegal in the UAE – refer to our guide here for more information on UAE law – many women use the contraceptive pill to help with painful periods and issues with skin. So yes, it is available here.

Emirates Woman spoke to Dr. Josephine Jose, head of obstetrics and gynaecology at Dubai’s International Modern Hospital, and Dr. Anushuya Kasi, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at Dubai’s Mediclinic Welcare Hospital, to get the facts straight.

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Is it OK for unmarried women to purchase contraceptive pills in the UAE? Will I risk getting into trouble?

Both married and unmarried women are able to purchase contraceptive pills in the UAE without problems. As Dr. Kasi points out, oral contraceptive pills are also used to treat conditions such as heavy periods and acne.

In recent years, there have been overseas media reports of women being asked to produce marriage certificates when trying to purchase contraceptive pills in the UAE, however, such cases appear to be unfounded.

Dr. Jose says women should not worry about doctors or pharmacists asking about their marital status. “Ultimately, I would respect it’s a confidential issue and give the patient advice as she needs. It’s between me and my patient.”

Do I need a prescription to purchase contraceptive pills in the UAE?

Contraceptive pills are not a prescription medicine in the UAE, and you can easily buy them over the counter from pharmacies like Boots.

However, both doctors recommend seeing a doctor if you are starting the pill for the first time or changing to a different pill, as not all pills are suitable for everyone.

“Ideally, a prescription is good, but if you are already on the pill and run out, you could buy it from the pharmacy,” Dr. Kasi says.

You should also arrange to have a check-up every six months while on the pill.

I want to start the pill. What can I expect from the doctor’s appointment?

Dr. Kasi says you can expect to receive a thorough general examination, with your body weight and blood pressure taken. Your family history will also be recorded, and a gynaecological examination may be performed. Pregnancy should also be ruled out.

Dr. Jose says it is also important that the doctor explains carefully how to use the pill, as it loses effectiveness with improper use.

What brands of the pill are available in the UAE?

There are more than 20 contraceptive pill brands registered in the UAE, according to Dr. Kasi. In Dubai, you will find Yasmin, Yaz, Diane, Belara, Marvelon, Gynera, Logynon, and Cerazette over the counter.

You can also check to see if your brand of pill is available by using the search function on the Health Authority – Abu Dhabi website.

The contraceptive pill I was using in my home country isn’t available in the UAE. Why is this?

Every country has its own drug laws, explains Dr. Jose, and variations in dosage might mean your pill is not allowed to be sold in the UAE. Typically, low to normal dose pills are available in the UAE. Brand names also differ from country to country. You should check with a doctor to find the best match.

Am I allowed to bring the pill into the UAE from my home country?

Dr. Kasi says you can bring in the contraceptive pill from your home country, though for your own safety, it should have been prescribed by a doctor. You will not need the original prescription.

What about the Emergency Contraceptive Pill?

This is not available in the UAE.

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Image: Getty