Contraception can be an embarrassing thing to discuss for some people. However, it’s crucial that you understand the contraception choices available to you as an international student.
To help you navigate the topic, we’ve put together some information on the different options available in Australia, as well as some answers to other frequently asked questions around contraception.
What is contraception?
Contraception simply means using a method or physical tool to prevent pregnancy while engaging in sexual intercourse. Common contraception methods include the intrauterine device (IUD), contraceptive implants and injections, the vaginal ring, the contraceptive pill, condoms and diaphragms.
What are my contraception options in Australia?
In Australia, you have access to a range of contraception options that can help prevent unwanted pregnancies, some of which we’ll go through in more detail below.
All international students can access contraception in Australia. It is important to choose one that best suits your needs and unique circumstances. You can chat to your General Practitioner (GP) or visit your local sexual health clinic if you need advice.
Many contraception methods require you to chat to your GP first, but some – such as condoms and diaphragms – are readily available at your local supermarket or pharmacy. These types of contraception don’t require a doctor’s referral. Prior to meeting with your GP to discuss your options, you can also use this contraception matchmaker.
It’s also important to know that some contraception options may be covered by OSHC, while others are not. Chat to your OSHC provider for more information.
What are IUDs?
An IUD is a device that is implanted into a woman’s uterus. It can be a hormone-releasing or copper IUD, and it needs to be inserted by a professional. Once again, your GP can provide advice as to whether an IUD is suitable for you and, if so, which IUD to opt for.
The best part about IUDs is that they can be effective for up to 10 years. This means that once you’ve had one inserted, you won’t need to replace it for a long time (unless, of course, there are any issues after insertion).
IUDs can also be easily removed at any time and your fertility should return immediately. However, IUDs don’t provide protection against Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs).
What is the pill?
The combined oral contraceptive pill – commonly called ‘the pill’ – is a popular option that contains hormones designed to help prevent pregnancy. Some women may have already had the pill to help alleviate polycystic ovarian syndrome, acne or heavy periods.
The pill needs to be taken daily in order to be effective, so you’ll need to stay on top of your schedule to ensure you take it consistently. Note that it doesn’t protect against STIs.
To get access to the pill, your GP will need to write a prescription. The pill can then be purchased from a pharmacy.
Are male condoms a contraception option?
Condoms are considered a barrier method, as they prevent semen from entering the uterus. They are also the only contraception method that prevents both pregnancies and STIs. You can purchase condoms from any pharmacy, and even supermarkets like Coles and Woolworths.
Is the male contraceptive pill available in Australia?
Contraceptive injections and pills are currently not available to men in Australia. Learn more about male contraceptive injections here.
What is the abortion pill?
In Australia, the abortion pill is more commonly known as the morning after pill or emergency contraception. It is taken after unprotected sex to prevent pregnancy.
You can purchase the morning after pill from your local pharmacy. You will be required to fill in a form and the chemist will guide you on how to take the pill. They can also answer any questions you have about how the pill works and how it affects your body.
The morning after pill can be taken up to three to five days after unprotected sex (depending on which pill you take), but the earlier you take it, the more effective it is.
Is abortion legal in Australia?
Abortion is legal in Australia, however laws differ between states. Click here to find out the abortion laws in your state and the requirements if you choose to have an abortion.
As an international student, remember you are not alone and that support is available in Australia. If you do decide that abortion is the right choice for you, there’s plenty of information available to assist you in making your decision. This decision-making guide is a good place to start. Alternatively, you can utilise the services listed at the end of this article. Many of these provide a phone service where you can have a confidential chat with a counsellor.
Is abortion included in OSHC?
You will have to check with your OSHC provider to find out whether or not abortion costs are covered. However, most providers cover the cost of abortion after your first 12 months in Australia. Some insurers are known to waive this policy in certain circumstances, but you will have to discuss this with your provider.
What can I do if I can’t afford an abortion?
Where can I seek help with contraceptive options, abortion assistance and more?
- Fact sheets of essential information about reproductive and sexual health, contraception, menstruation and STIs in community languages
- Marie Stopes Australia provides abortion, vasectomy and contraception services nationally
- Youly is an online health platform that allows women to confidentially manage their sexual health, contraception and related needs
- LGBTI-friendly services Australia
- Family Planning New South Wales
- Family Planning Victoria
Find the nearest sexual health clinic in your state:
- New South Wales
- Northern Territory
- Western Australia
- South Australia
- Australian Capital Territory
For more information regarding sexual health facts for international students, click here.