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Italy

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OVERVIEW

In Italy, you need a prescription to obtain birth control pills, but you can find condoms with no prescription required. Emergency contraception (the morning after pill) is available for purchase without a prescription (since 2015), which is a positive update after years of required prescriptions. You can get an STD/STI test at one of the many clinics in the city, and there are some nationwide support networks. Maternity leave of five months is required for all pregnant women who are employed. Abortion is legal during the first 90 days of gestation, and it's free for Italian citizens. Foreigners will need to pay for an abortion procedure. There are many health care professionals who do not provide abortions due to their moral or religious beliefs so, if you need an abortion, it is imperative to secure a physician who is willing to perform the procedure.

Contraception (Birth Control)[edit]

Birth control purchased in Florence, Italy for 13 euro

General Note: There are many types of contraceptives, also known as "birth control," including IUDs, oral contraceptives, patches, shots, and condoms, etc. If you would like to view a full list, click here.

Laws & Social Stigmas[edit]

In Italy, you need a prescription for hormonal birth control, like birth control pills or shots. You don't need a prescription for condoms. According to a 2015 study, 65.3% of Italian women (of reproductive age) used a contraceptive method, and 48.9% of Italian women used a modern method. It was estimated that 11.4% had unmet family planning needs.[1]

What to Get & Where to Get It[edit]

Lusinelle birth control purchased in Italy for 13 euro
  • To see a comprehensive list of contraception options in Italy, click here.
  • Once you have a prescription for birth control pills, you can them at local pharmacies ("farmacia" in Italian). There are over 20 brands registered in Italy. Some brands you can expect to see are Novogyn 21, Microgynon, Ovranet, Loette and Miranova. To see a full list, click click here.
  • Nuvaring (the contraceptive ring) is available in Italy. In 2009, it cost around 13 euro. We'll need to update with a more recent rate.
  • You can get condoms ("(preservativi") at grocery stores and pharmacies. There are also condom vending machines, which can often be found outside of pharmacies.
  • If you want a contraceptive injectable/shot, you can get Depo-Provera in Italy.[2]
  • If you want an IUD, you can get Mirena in Italy.[3]

Costs[edit]

Some birth control pill brands are around 13 euro per month.

Emergency Contraception (Morning After Pill)[edit]

Important Notes: Emergency contraception may prevent pregnancy for three days (72 hours) and sometimes five days (120 hours) after unprotected sex. Take EC as soon as possible after unprotected sex. If you don't have access to dedicated EC, oral contraceptives can be used as replacement EC, but remember the following: 1) Only some contraceptives work as EC 2) Different contraceptives require different dosages and time schedules to work as EC 3) You must only use the first 21 pills in 28-day packs and 4) They may be less effective than dedicated EC. For general information on emergency contraceptives, click here and here.

Laws & Social Stigmas[edit]

In Italy, you can purchase two emergency contraceptive types (morning after pills) without a prescription. LNG EC (like Escapelle and NorLevo 1.5mg) and UPA EC (like ellaOne) are now available over-the-counter from pharmacies for women who are 18 years of age or older. If you want LNG EC, you must get it from a physician (not a pharmacist). If you want UPA EC, you must go to a pharmacy and specifically ask the pharmacy clerk for it, since it's not on the shelves. Also, if you're under 18 years old, you'll still need a prescription to purchase them. However, for all other EC brands, you do need a prescription.[4]

This is a major improvement over past Italian laws, when all EC required a prescription. This caused much distress for women in the past, and you can read a personal account a foreign student's difficulties trying to access EC in the past here. Fortunately, since April 2015, UPA EC has been available over-the-counter, and since October 2015, LNG EC has been available over-the-counter.

What to Get & Where to Get It[edit]

  • In Italy, you can purchase emergency contraception/the morning after pill ("pillola del giorno dopo" in Italian) at pharmacies. For many brands, you no longer need a prescription, which is a new update as of 2015. Some brands you can expect to see are ellaOne (this is an anti-progestin pill, and it's considered the most effective but it's a bit more expensive). There's also some progestin-only brands (which are cheaper but usually not effective after 3 days), such as Lonel, NorLevo 1.5mg, Unlevo 1500 and Levonelle. For all of these brands, you should take the pill as soon as possible after unprotected sex in order to prevent pregnancy. For more details about accessing these pills with or without prescriptions, see the section above ("Laws & Social Stigmas").
  • If you can't access dedicated emergency contraception, you can use birth control pills as replacement EC. Remember that, in 28-day packs, only the first 21 pills can be used. You can take Novogyn 21 (take 2 pills within 120 hours after unprotected sex and take 2 more pills 12 hours later). You can also take Microgynon or Ovranet (for both of these brands, take 4 pills within 120 hours after unprotected sex and take 4 more pills 12 hours later). There's also Loette and Miranova (for both of these brands, take 5 pills within 120 hours after unprotected sex and take 5 more pills 12 hours later).

Note: "RU-486 (Mifegyne) is a pill used under medical supervision in a hospital that terminates a pregnancy within 49 days after implantation of the fertilised egg. It is legal in Italy however some regional governments have opposed the use and therefore the drug may not be readily accessible in all localities."[5]

Costs[edit]

If you want an LNG type of birth control (like Escapalle or Norlevo), you can get it for around € 13,10. If you want UPA EC (like ellaOne0, you can get it for around € 26,90.

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs/STDs)[edit]

Important Notes - Learn about PEP and PrEP: If you think that you've been recently exposed to HIV (i.e. within 72 hours), seek out PEP (Post-Exposure Prophylaxis). It's a month-long treatment to prevent HIV infection after exposure, and it may be available in your city. Take PEP as soon as possible. For more information, click here. If you are at risk of HIV exposure, seek out PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis). It's a daily oral pill that can prevent HIV infection before exposure. To learn more about PrEP, click here.

Laws & Social Stigmas[edit]

There are no travel or residency restrictions related to HIV or STI status in Italy. If you want to work in certain professions (like medicine), you may be required to take an HIV test, but you results will be confidential.[6]

What to Get & Where to Get It[edit]

Testing Facilities[edit]

Check out the city pages, like the Rome page, for local recommendations.

Support[edit]

  • Università del Sacro Cuore di Roma: Offers HIV treatment. Address: Largo Agostino Gemelli, 8. 00168 Roma.
  • Lega italiana per la lotta contro l'AIDS: Address: Corso Regina Margherita, 190/e, 10152 Torino. Phone: +39 011 431 0922. Fax: +39 011 521 7552. E-mail: lila@lila.it
  • Associazione Nazionale per la lotta contro l'AIDS: Address: Via Barberini 3, 00187 Roma.
  • AnlAids

Costs[edit]

Medications & Vaccines[edit]

Laws & Social Stigmas[edit]

What to Get & Where to Get It[edit]

  • If you have a yeast infection, you can ask for a local version of Fluconazole at the pharmacy.
  • Since 2007, Italy has had a national HPV immunization program, targeting 12 years olds.[7]
  • In Italy, there is no national PrEP policy or clinical trials. However, Lila and Plus are two activist groups working on PrEP in Italy.

Costs[edit]

Menstruation[edit]

Note: In addition to pads and tampons, you can also use menstrual cups and menstrual underwear for your period. To learn more about menstrual cups, click here. To learn more about menstrual underwear, click here.

Laws & Social Stigmas[edit]

What to Get & Where to Get It[edit]

In Italy, you can find pads, tampons and menstrual cups. For pads, they can be found in most supermarkets and you'll have many brands to choose from. For tampons, there are less options. You'll typically find OB (without applicator) or Tampax (with applicator). The prices in the supermarkets are generally better than at pharmacies. For menstrual cups, you have a few options. Larger supermarkets, like Esselunga have them, but it's generally one brand only. It is also possible to find them in some pharmacies, or to have them delievered the next day, if not immediately available. If you want DivaCup, contact Michele and Barbara Fenati at La Madre Terra: Tel: 0039063611823. Fax: 00390645424411. If you want MoonCup, you can have it delivered from the UK to Italy -- check out the Italian MoonCup website for details. For LadyCup, check out Lady Teen and Popolini. For Lunette, check out Io Solo Donna.

Costs[edit]

Gynecological Exams[edit]

Laws & Social Stigmas[edit]

What to Get & Where to Get It[edit]

Check out the city pages, like the Rome page, for local recommendations.

Costs[edit]

Pregnancy[edit]

Laws & Social Stigmas[edit]

In Italy, all pregnant employees are entitled to maternity leave. If a woman is applying to a job, she is not legally required to tell the employer that she is pregnant. Under the law, pregnant workers are required to take five months' maternity leave, and the woman is entitled to 80% of her regular pay from social security. The employer is often required to make the difference so that the pregnant woman receives 100% of regular earnings. When the woman returns to work, she must receive the same position and responsibilities that she had before the pregnancy. In certain circumstances, maternity leave can be converted into paternity leave.[8]

What to Get & Where to Get It[edit]

Check out the city pages, like the Rome page, for local recommendations.

Costs[edit]

Abortion[edit]

Important Note: There are two main types of abortions: medical (also known as the "abortion pill") and surgical (also known as "in-clinic"). For medical abortions, you take a pill to induce abortion. For surgical abortions, a procedure is performed to induce abortion. For general information about medical and surgical abortions, click here.

Laws & Social Stigmas[edit]

In Italy, abortion is fully legal for the first 90 days of gestation, according to Law No. 194 (passed in 1978). The father does not need to give consent. However, if you're under 18, you will need parental consent (unless the abortion is due to a health emergency). During this 90-day period, all reasons for an abortion are permitted, including to save the life of the woman, to preserve physical health, to preserve mental health, rape or incest, risk of fetal impairment and economic or social reasons. While it is not formally available "upon request," the law is so open-ended that any woman can find a legal reason for an abortion that fits into the permitted criteria.

There are certain steps that must be taken in order to obtain an abortion. First, a woman must usually apply to an authorized health or welfare agency or a physician of her choice. If she goes to an agency, she will be receive a consultation, during which time she may be encouraged to not seek out termination. If she goes to a physician, the physician must inform of her rights and the availability of welfare facilities. Following the consultation, if the woman wishes to terminate her pregnancy, the physician must issue a certificate. This certificate confirms the pregnancy and the request for an abortion, and it must be signed by the woman and physician. If the pregnant woman is under 18, parental authorization is required (unless there are serious health risks -- in which case, parental preferences may be overruled). Following the issuing of the certificate, the woman must usually then undergo a one-week reflection period. This reflection period is legally required unless an urgent abortion is necessary. Once the reflection period is complete, the woman may go to an authorized medical facility and request an abortion. Note that abortions must be performed in public hospitals or authorized private facilities. There are no specialized abortion clinics in Italy.

After the first three months of gestation, abortion is only permitted to preserve the physical/mental health of the mother or if the fetus has a genetic deficiency. If abortions are performed that are outside the legal provisions, penalties may be levied.

Important Note: You must confirm a physician that will provide an abortion procedure for you. In Italy, medical care providers are not required to perform abortions. If medical personnel are opposed to abortion on moral or religious groups, they are legally allowed to declare their conscientious objection and they're exempt from performing or assisting in an abortion procedure. Seventy percent of Italian gynecologists (and 83% in some conservative regions) are conscientious objectors so do not perform abortions, as of 2016, and a nationwide survey found that 1,200 gynecologists out of well over 10,000 performed abortions. This means that some women spend considerable time trying to find and secure a gynecologist who is willing to perform the exam. It's critical that you secure a physician that does not hold moral objections and can perform the procedure. For more information about this issue in Italy, check out this article and this article.

What to Get & Where to Get It[edit]

Costs[edit]

If you have an Italian health card, abortion is free. If you're a foreigner, you will need to pay for the procedure.

Advocacy & Counseling[edit]

Laws & Social Stigmas[edit]

What to Get & Where to Get It[edit]

Costs[edit]

List of Additional Resources[edit]

References[edit]

  1. Trends in Contraceptive Use Worldwide 2015
  2. IPPF Italy
  3. IPPF Italy
  4. European Consortium for Emergency Contraception - Italy
  5. Termination of Pregnancy and Abortion in Italy
  6. ITALY - REGULATIONS ON ENTRY, STAY AND RESIDENCE FOR PLHIV
  7. Italy: Human Papillomavirus and Related Cancers, Fact Sheet 2016
  8. Leave in Italy