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Iran / Tehran
Aerial View of Tehran 26.11.2008 04-35-03.JPG


Overall, Iran is an incredibly complex, and often paradoxical, country when it comes to issues related to sexual and reproductive health care. On the one hand, Iran is a conservative nation and an Islamic republic, which has often preached a pro-natalist policy. Politicians and clerics routinely promote larger families and decry immorality. Locals report that they often feel uncomfortable asking pharmacists for birth control or emergency contraception, and the subject of STI tests remains generally taboo. There are minimal legal protections related to sexual harassment or gender discrimination, and homosexuality is illegal.[1] Meanwhile, abortion is only legal during the first four months of pregnancy, and only when the pregnancy either endangers the woman's life[2] or when there is severe risk of fetal impairment.[3]

Yet, on the other hand, Iran is a country with a rich history and dynamic society. Before the Iranian Revolution, family planning was declared a human right under the Tehran Declaration of 1967. Despite challenges to family planning, you can purchase birth control, such as pills and condoms, at pharmacies and supermarkets without a prescription in Iran. You can also purchase emergency contraception (the morning after pill) at pharmacies without a prescription. You can access HIV tests at most laboratories that do blood work or through gynecologists found at hospitals or clinics. Meanwhile, there is a rather large underground network of abortion providers and even an Iranian health minister acknowledged the high abortion rates in 2014. It is common for Iranian newlyweds to want small families or no children at all, and studies have shown that it's often married and educated women who seek out abortions in Iran, hoping to control the size of their families.[4]

With all of this being said, it's very difficult to draw blanket statements or broad generalizations about Iran. It is a country known for both strong conservatism and deep-set liberalism, and like many countries, the subject of family planning is a sensitive issue that's not without controversy.

Contraception (Birth Control)[edit]

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 Iran, you can purchase various forms of birth control at pharmacies without a prescription.[5] [6] You can also purchase condoms at drugstores and certain high-end supermarkets without a prescription. However, some women feel uncomfortable purchasing contraceptives, such as condoms or birth control pills, in their local pharmacies or supermarkets, where they may be observed by neighbors or family members. Furthermore, pharmacists are known to sometimes question locals, asking why they are purchasing contraception and if they are married.[7] This type of questioning is done to both men and women, but women receive a greater amount of stigmatization and shaming, according to locals. For this reason, local women may travel to other neighborhoods to purchase contraceptives, where they can escape the judgment of neighbors.[8]

Generally speaking, birth control pills and withdrawal are the most common contraceptive methods in Iran. According to a 2015 report, 76.6% of Iranian women (who are of reproductive age and married/in unions) use some form of contraception. The most common forms of contraception are withdrawal/"the pull out method" (16.9%), birth control pills (15.6%), female sterilization (14.8%), male condoms (13.7%) and IUDs (8.4%). Overall, it is estimated that 6.5% of Iranian women (who are of reproductive age and married/in unions) have unmet family planning needs. This rate is lower than in many Western European countries, meaning that, despite their conservative government, many Iranian women are still accessing contraception.[9]

From a historical perspective, Iran has frequently changed its family planning policies. In the 1960s, Iran recognized that it was experiencing rapid population growth, and national family planning policies were introduced. In fact, the Tehran Declaration of 1967 acknowledged family planning as a human right.[10] Yet, following the Iranian Revolution (1979), the newly formed Iranian government, under Ayatollah Khomeini, focused on a traditional, pro-natalist approach. Family planning clinics were closed down, birth control policy was suspended and abortion was re-criminalized.[11]

However, in 1989, the government's policies began to rapidly change. The war with Iraq had ended, Ayatollah Khomeini had died, and the new leaders, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, recognized that there was a population growth problem. The government launched a new campaign to encourage families to have a maximum of two children under the slogan, "One is good. Two is enough."[12] Furthermore, Iran's Health Ministry began providing free contraceptives, including condoms, pills, implants, IUDs and sterilization, which could be obtained at urban clinics, rural clinics and mobile clinics. The government also required that college students, soldiers and engaged couples take classes on family planning. These changes helped to successfully bring a decline in population growth and fertility rates.[13]

The last decade has seen further shifts in family planning policy. In 2006, President Ahmadinejad declared that he wanted the population to increase, and many Iranian leaders and clerics have stated that population control measures belong in the past or were mistakes to begin with. The government has cut its budget for subsidized condoms and family planning services, increased paid maternity and paternity leave and tried to make female or male sterilization illegal.[14] [15] However, many Iranian married couples, particularly middle-class and educated couples, may not feel the desire to have large families or any children at all. This is partially due to the increase in education among women, as well young people's concerns regarding the political and financial instability of the country.[16]

At times, Iran has experienced shortages of birth control pills in pharmacies, particularly due to Western embargoes. You can read a personal account of attempting to buy birth control pills in Tehran, during a period of embargoes, here.

More information:

What to Get & Where to Get It[edit]

  • If you want condoms, you can buy them in drug stores and certain supermarkets in Iranian cities, according to official reports[17] and local sources.[18] At the drugstores, you can expect to see brands like Kapoot, Good Life and Nach.[19] You can purchase them online at Digikala, which is the largest ecommerce site in Iran. You can also find special condom brands, like Fiesta, which are manufactured locally in Iran. They come in nine different flavors/types and were launched by DKT Iran (an NGO).[20] In the past, Iran even launched condom vending machines in Tehran, which were meant to help prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, but they were later considered to be promoting "immoral acts" and were removed.[21]
  • If you want birth control pills, you can easily find them in pharmacies. It's most common to find pills from Iranian, German and Dutch pharmaceutical companies, such as Contraceptive L.D. or Contraceptive H.D.[22] (produced by Iranian companies), Lynestrenol (produced by Organon, a Dutch company) or Yasmin and Yaz (produced by Bayer, a German company).[23]
  • If you want an IUD, you can find a variety of options in Iran, both locally-produced and from international manufacturers. For example, you may find the Pregna brand, which is a locally-produced IUDs that was launched launched by DKT Iran (an NGO).[24] Furthermore, you may find internationally recognized IUD brands like Mirena.[25]
  • While locals believe that you can find the contraceptive patch, contraceptive injectable and contraceptive implant in Iran, we have not yet received any definitive information on these options. If you know where to access them in Iran, please add this information to the page.


  • For condoms, you can expect to pay around 10,000-20,000 rials per piece, as of December 2017.[26]
  • For a pack of birth control pills, you can expect to pay around 260,000 IRR-350,000 IRR.[27]
  • While some articles online claim that the Iranian government subsidizes birth control pills, and the Iranian government did formerly provide subsidies to disadvantaged people, locals do not believe that this is currently the case.[28]

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 Iran, emergency contraception (morning after pill) is available without a prescription at pharmacies.[29] Some people may feel judged by the pharmacists or uncomfortable when purchasing emergency contraception. For this reason, while emergency contraception is technically available, it may not be sought out by all women, or some women may choose to purchase emergency contraception outside of their neighborhoods where they can find more anonymity and privacy.

What to Get & Where to Get It[edit]

  • In Iran, you can purchase emergency contraception pills (the morning after pill) without a prescription at pharmacies. You'll find that the brands being sold are typically produced by Iranian pharmaceutical companies. The most common brands are Longil and Ovocease.[30]
  • If you cannot access dedicated emergency contraception pills (ECPs), you can use regular birth control pills as replacement ECPs. But remember that, in 28-day packs, only the first 21 pills can be used. To do this, you can take Contraceptive H.D. (take 2 pills within 120 hours after unprotected sex and take 2 more pills 12 hours later). Alternatively, you can also take Contraceptive L.D. (take 4 pills within 120 hours after unprotected sex and take 4 more pills 12 hours later).[31]
  • If you cannot access dedicated emergency contraception pills (ECPs), you can use an intrauterine device (IUD) as a form of emergency contraception. It will need to be inserted into your body as soon as possible after unprotected sex to prevent pregnancy. Consult a physician for more details.


  • The average cost of emergency contraceptive pills (ECPs) in Iranian pharmacies is around 50,000 IRR, as of 2017.[32]

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]

Generally speaking, Iran is rather conservative when it comes to issues of STIs. First, there are laws related to foreigners and HIV status. If you are tourist or short-term visitor to Iran, you do not need to take an HIV test. However, if you're a foreigner and plan to obtain a work or residence permit, or if you plan to stay in Iran for over three months, you will need to take an HIV test. If you are found to be HIV positive, your visa or permit will probably be denied.[33] There are an estimated 73,000 people in Iran living with HIV, and 0.1% of the population is HIV positive.[34]

Regarding Human Papillomavirus (HPV), it could certainly be a topic that the government invests more resources toward, but this isn't currently the case. Cervical cancer is the ninth most frequent cancer among women (ages 15-44) in Iran, and about 2.8% of Iranian women are estimated to have HPV-16/18. Meanwhile, nearly 60% of invasive cervical cancer cases are attributed to HPV. However, Iran does not have a nationwide HPV vaccination program, as of 2017.[35]

In Iranian society, the discussion of STI testing remains generally taboo. When we spoke with Iranian locals, we were told by multiple sources that they did not feel comfortable discussing STI tests with their friends or close contacts, and sometimes they did not even feel comfortable discussing the possibility of STI tests with health care providers. Multiple sources said that they only felt comfortable discussing STI tests with their partners.[36]

Testing Facilities[edit]

  • You should be able to find HIV and some other STI tests in most blood/urine testing labs in Iran.[37] According to locals, you can dial 118 to find the nearest HIV consultation center in your area. These tests are usually free. Alternatively, you can go to a 'women's doctor,' as they are called, and get an HIV test, however these tests are not free (and they may be expensive).
  • There are some initiatives to offer free HIV tests on the streets to at-risk populations, like injection drug users, in cities like Tehran. To read more about this work, click here.
  • There currently seems to be no way to administer HIV self-tests in Iran. However, there is a strong case to make this available to people, as there is a lot of stigma and shame around STIs. To learn more about the reasons behind self-testing and research on the topic in Iran, click here.


  • Dr. Mohraz: Provides HIV treatment. Address: Sanaie Place no 49, Teheran/Iran, Phone: +98 21 646 3728.
  • HIV Travel - Iran: This website provides information on laws related to HIV/AIDS in Iran.
  • UNAIDS Iran: Fardad Doroudi, Telephone: +98 21 22 85 89 50. Email: DOROUDIF@UNAIDS.ORG
  • Red Crescent Society of the Islamic Republic of Iran: "The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is the world’s largest humanitarian and development network, with millions of volunteers in 190 member National Societies."


  • If you go to a specialized HIV testing center, you may get a test for free. If you go through a specialized doctor, you will probably be charged for STI tests, such as HIV tests, and the price may expensive.

Medications & Vaccines[edit]

Laws & Social Stigmas[edit]

What to Get & Where to Get It[edit]

  • There is no nationwide HPV vaccination program in Iran.[38] However, you may be able to access HPV vaccine, like Gardasil, in some Iranian clinics or hospitals.
  • We cannot find evidence of PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) being available in Iran. If anyone has information on this topic, please add info.
  • We cannot find evidence of PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) being available in Iran. If anyone has information on this topic, please add info.



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]

From an Iranian local: "On the subject of menstrual health and products, there is actually some information provided by schools, at least in large cities, around the sixth or seventh grade. I do not know how regulated it is and whether the same information is provided in less educated and more conservative areas."

What to Get & Where to Get It[edit]

  • In Iran, pads/pantyliners are widely available in stores, and they're the most commonly used menstrual product among Iranian women. You should be able to find Iranian and foreign brands of pads/pantyliners in stores
  • You should be able to find tampons in supermarkets in cities. There have been some reports of a declining level of tampons, but this is not confirmed so we'll need someone to update this section with more info.
  • Generally speaking, menstrual cups are extremely uncommon and it's unlikely that you will find them sold in Iranian markets.[39] If you would like to purchase a menstrual cup, you should find an online retailer that delivers to Iran, or you can purchase them in other countries where menstrual cups are sold.


  • You can expect to pay between 250,000-80,000 rials for a 10-12 pack of heavy-flow pads/pantyliners in Iran. For lighter-flow pads/pantyliners, you can expect to pay around 30,000 rials for a pack of 20.[40]

Gynecological Exams[edit]

Laws & Social Stigmas[edit]

What to Get & Where to Get It[edit]



Laws & Social Stigmas[edit]

In Iran, women are entitled to 90 days of maternity leave, and 45 of those days must occur after the delivery of the baby. If a woman gives birth to twins, maternity leave can be extended for an additional 14 days. When women return to work, they're entitled to half-hour breaks every three hours for nursing. Employers are also supposed to set up child care centers.[41]

What to Get & Where to Get It[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 Iran, abortion is only legal during the first four months of pregnancy, and only when the pregnancy endangers the woman's life[42] or when there is risk of a fetal impairment that is recognized by the Legal Medical Organization.[43] [44] Three medical specialists must confirm that the pregnant woman's life is endangered or that there's risk of fetal impairment before an abortion can be legally performed.[45]

In all other cases, abortion is illegal. This means that abortion is not available upon request, and it's not available when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest, or when the woman has serious physical, mental or social reasons for seeking out an abortion. If someone pursues an abortion for any of these reasons, they may be made punished. According to Penal Code of 1991, which is based on Islamic law, an illegal abortion is considered a crime of bodily harm (also known as "oisas"). This is punishable and the involved parties must pay blood money or compensation (also known as "diyah") to the victim's relatives.[46]

Despite strict abortion laws, abortion is apparently rather common in Iran, especially in larger cities like Tehran. In fact, the Iranian government has even begun to acknowledge the abortion rate. In 2014, Dr. Mohammad Esmaeel Motlagh, the director of the Health and Population Bureau of Iran’s Ministry of Health, presented statistics that showed about 250,000 abortions were performed in Iran each year.[47] This was complemented by a 2011 report from the Guttmacher Institute, which estimated that 11,500 were performed on married women in Tehran alone each year and that "one of every six women of reproductive age will have an abortion in their lifetime if current age-specific abortion rates remain unchanged."[48] In the report, it was found that two thirds of such abortions were performed on women who had used some form of contraception, such as condoms, pills or the withdrawal method. Furthermore, women were most likely to request abortions when they were in their early 30s, educated, less religious, already had children and when they felt that they did not want more children. This was a very different profile than in Central Asia or Eastern Europe, where young girls were the most likely to request abortions. According to a PBS news article, "What these findings show is that abortion in Tehran is not the picture of desperate unwed schoolgirls that fulfills international stereotypes of who has abortions. It is an issue faced by adult married women motivated by the desire to plan their families, space their births and take care of the children they already have."[49]

From an Iranian local: "There are many cases of illegal and mostly uninformed and unsanitary attempts at abortion. A high percentage of them end in complications for the mother or the fetus, even death. The younger generation would love a change in the law that would legalize abortion at least in the first trimester. However, the subject is quite controversial and met with very strong objections from the conservatives (both politicians and people). Some doctors perform illegal abortions, which could end in prosecution and sentences from losing their licenses and fines for incarceration."

More Information:

What to Get & Where to Get It[edit]

  • Since abortion is generally illegal in Iran, we cannot recommend any general providers in Iran. However, according to a 2014 Al-Monitor report, "Shahid Kamali Hospital is also one of the hospitals with the most traffic for abortions."[50]
  • There is a black market of abortion providers in Iran. In certain place, people may sell pills, such as Misoprostol, to induce abortion. Click here for more information. There are also certain midwives or clinics who perform clandestine abortion services. However, these methods can be extremely risky since they are on the black market and unregulated.[51]
  • If you are considering leaving the country for an abortion, you can get a legal abortion in India, Turkey, Greece, Georgia or Azerbaijan. If you are interested in traveling to Europe, there are also many countries where abortion is legal.


  • Sources state that clandestine abortions in Iran are more expensive for unmarried women.[52]
  • If you are pregnant and considering getting an abortion outside Iran, you will need to consider the following costs: visa processing and procedures, transportation to the country where you will be obtaining an abortion, hotel or accommodation costs in that country, cost of the abortion in the country and the total amount of days you may need to be in the country both before and after the abortion.

Advocacy & Counseling[edit]

Laws & Social Stigmas[edit]

What to Get & Where to Get It[edit]


List of Additional Resources[edit]

Women's Resources[edit]

  • Omid Foundation: This is an Iran-based organization that helps women, especially women who are victims of abuse or violence. "OMID is committed to strengthening the social, emotional and economic opportunities of disadvantaged young women in Iran. We provide them with a sense of self worth and life and opportunities in three key areas: self-empowerment, education and training." To read more, click here. Email:
  • NCRI Women's Committe: "The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) is a broad coalition of democratic Iranian organizations, groups, and personalities, and was founded in 1981 in Tehran." "We work extensively with Iranian women outside the country and maintain a permanent contact with women inside Iran. The Women’s Committee is actively involved with many women's rights organizations and NGO's and the Iranian diaspora." Phone: 0134484504. Email:
  • Iranian Women's Association: This is a UK-based association for Iranian women. "IWA is a non-profit, non-political and non-religious membership association which promotes its aims without regard as to race, language or ethnicity. IWA is not involved in any activities that are, directly or indirectly, related to women’s rights."
  • IKWRO (Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organization): This London-based organization works on women's issues in the Middle East with a focus on Iran. "IKWRO’s mission is to protect Middle Eastern and Afghan women and girls who are at risk of ‘honour’ based violence, forced marriage, child marriage, female genital mutilation and domestic violence and to promote their rights." Address: IKWRO, PO Box 65840, London, EC2P 2FS

LGBTQ Resources[edit]

  • Click here to learn about LGBTQ rights in Iran.
  • Iranian Queer Organization: This is an advocacy group for LGBTQ rights in Iran, based in Toronto, Canada. "Iranian Queer Organization, the organization serving, empowering and supporting the Iranian LGBT community is the realization of big dreams and the result of major efforts by brave Iranian LGBT activists, who after years of underground activity and anonymous blogging, came to the conclusion that the Iranian LGBT community and individuals would be best served once they have an official association that can negotiate for them, represent them and create opportunities for social change in favor of the LGBT community inside Iran. As an organization, IRQO is a nonprofit human rights organization registered in 2007 in Toronto, Canada. The board of directors, the council, the working groups and the staff of various arms of IRQO like Cheragh magazine and Gilgamishan publication are all consisted of Iranian LGBT activists and individuals formerly active in Iran and now active in countries like Turkey, the US and Canada."

Human Rights Resources[edit]

  • Center for Human Rights in Iran: "The Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) is an independent, nonpartisan and nonprofit organization working to protect and promote human rights in Iran. Headquartered in New York, CHRI is comprised of award-winning journalists, researchers, lawyers, activists and advocates based around the world who work to support the basic rights and freedoms of the Iranian people and hold the Iranian government accountable to its international human rights obligations."
  • Iran Human Rights (IHR): "Iran Human Rights (IHR) is a non-profit, human rights organization with members inside and outside Iran. It is a non partisan and politically independent organization with its base in Oslo, Norway."
  • Iran Human Rights Documentation Center: "The Iran Human Rights Documentation Center is an independent non-profit organization that was founded in 2004 by human rights scholars and lawyers." Headquartered in USA. Email:


  1. Women's Rights - Country by Country
  2. Abortion Law in Iran
  3. Asia Safe Abortion Partnership - Country Profile: Iran
  4. Study | Iranians Have Abortions, Too
  5. Global Oral Contraception Availability
  6. [Conversation with Tehran Local, December 2017]
  7. [Information provided by local sources, December 2017]
  8. Contemporary Iran: Economy, Society, Politics
  9. Trends in Contraceptive Use Worldwide 2015
  10. Iran's revolutionary approach to family planning
  11. Birth control policies in Iran: a public health and ethics perspective - Mehdi Aloosh, Yashar Saghai
  12. Iran Once Offered Free Birth Control To All Its Citizens, And It Was Amazing
  13. Birth control policies in Iran: a public health and ethics perspective - Mehdi Aloosh, Yashar Saghai
  14. Iran bans vasectomies, wants more babies
  15. Iran: Making More Babies
  16. Urged to Multiply, Iranian Couples Are Dubious
  17. Population control policies in Iran
  18. Iran Forum: Condoms or contraceptives in bag on arrival?
  19. [Conversation with Tehran Local, December 2017]
  20. DKT International: Iran
  21. Iranians in the Dark as AIDS Cases Rise
  22. Princeton EC Website\
  23. [Information provided by local sources]
  24. DKT International: Iran
  25. Iranian Study: Levonorgestrel-releasing IUD versus copper IUD in control of dysmenorrhea, satisfaction and quality of life in women using IUD
  26. [Information provided by local sources, December 2017]
  27. [Information provided by local sources, December 2017]
  28. [Information provided by local sources, December 2017]
  29. EC Status and Availability: Iran
  30. Princeton EC Website
  31. Princeton EC Website
  32. [Conversation with Tehran Local, December 2017]
  34. UNAIDS: Islamic Republic of Iran
  35. Iran - Human Papillomavirus and Related Cancers, Fact Sheet 2017
  36. [Local Sources, December 2017]
  37. [Conversation with Tehran Local, December 2017]
  38. Iran - Human Papillomavirus and Related Cancers, Fact Sheet 2017
  39. [Conversation with Tehran Local, December 2017]
  40. [Local Sources, December 2017]
  42. Abortion Law in Iran
  43. Asia Safe Abortion Partnership - Country Profile: Iran
  44. Induced Abortion in Tehran, Iran: Estimated Rates and Correlates
  45. Asia Safe Abortion Partnership - Country Profile: Iran
  46. Asia Safe Abortion Partnership - Country Profile: Iran
  47. [ Abortion on the rise in Iran]
  48. Induced Abortion in Tehran, Iran: Estimated Rates and Correlates
  49. Study | Iranians Have Abortions, Too
  50. Abortion on the rise in Iran
  51. [ Abortion on the rise in Iran]
  52. [ Abortion on the rise in Iran]