As women, we’re faced with a few extra issues on the road, and just so that you don’t meet with any harsh surprises, I’m going to break down how some of those play out for you while in Chile. This mainly has to do with monthly/reproductive stuff, and hey, men, if you want to play along, we won’t stop you, but don’t blame me if it’s more than you bargained for.
- Tampons/Pads etc
On a monthly basis as home, you might choose your supplies, whether they be tampons, pads, pantiliners or some eco-friendly version, perhaps the keeper/diva cups or reusable pads. On the road, if you’re going for disposables, you may well want to bring your favorite supply with you. While pads and pantiliners are readily available in Chile, tampons are available only in some pharmacies/supermarkets, come in boxes of a maximum 16 and these, when available, may cost up to $7 US per box. Availability is limited to a few brands, all with applicators. If you’re an OB-girl, you’ll want to bring them from home. Outside of Santiago and the larger cities you may be completely out of luck in terms of tampon availablity.
- The Pill
Many versions of the pill are available in Chile, as is the Nuvaring, and none of them require a prescription. If you bring your formulation from home, you are likely to be able to get something either close to or the same as your home prescription, for usually less than $20 US. You can research it yourself, or bring the formulation to the pharmacy and ask for the pharmacist to see you (he/she usually doesn’t appear from the back room except for consults).
If you tend to take analgesics for cramps, you may want to bring them from home. Ibuprofen (ibuprofeno), ketaprofen (ketaprofeno) and generic Aleve (naproxeno sodico) are all available, but are sold in boxes of 10-12 tablets, and are more expensive than bringing them from home. Higher order NSAIDS (nonsteroidal antiinflammitory drugs) such as those used for osteo arthritis and other chronic problems, such as Mobic (meloxicam) are also available without a prescription, but be aware that some of these meds may not be recommended in your home country. The Laboratorio de Chile is the stand-in for generic drugs and you should cross check that brand’s price before buying anything.
If you suffer from UTIs and the pain that accompanies them, you can get phenazopyridine hydrochloride (sold as AZO) in the United States over the counter, but much more expensive. Antibiotics are not available over the counter, and you will need to go to a doctor and get a diagnosis and prescription if that is the case. Cranberry juice is rarely, but occasionally available, try at a health food store.
- Emergency Contraception
The “plan b” or “morning after pill” (píldora día después)should be available in all pharmacies, but that is often not the case. There is technically no reason why you as a foreigner should not be able to obtain it, but this may be used as an excuse in not delivering it to you. Abortion is illegal and criminal, though abortions (chemical and surgical) are frequently performed in Chile.
If you think of anything else you’re dying to know about, feel free to drop me a comment here and I’ll get back to you. And if I don’t know, I can find out. And men? You can tune back in now!
Photo courtesy of starbooze on Flickr.