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Thailand

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OVERVIEW

Thailand is renowned for its international hospitals, nightlife and thriving LGBT community. But this does not mean that everything in Thailand is accessible or progressive. Regarding medications and check-ups, Thailand seems to be fairly good. You don't need a prescription for any contraception, including emergency contraception, and it can be cheaply purchased at pharmacies. There is heightened STD awareness, so there are a number of STD testing facilities, and Thailand is the only country in Southeast Asia with any PreP trials/studies, as of 2016. As for LGBT resources, Silom is considered the main gay area of Bangkok, especially Soi 2 and Soi 4.

But abortion law is very restrictive. According to Thai law, women can only receive abortions under special conditions, like endangerment to life or rape. Reasons like social/economic factors or general choice are not permitted. However, this law is not entirely enforced, and there are an estimated 15 abortion clinics in Thailand. There is only one known hospital in Bangkok that practices safe abortions with little restrictions, so please visit the 'Abortion' section for details.

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 Thailand, you can buy birth control without a prescription. It is estimated that 72-78% of women (of fertility age) are on some form of modern birth control. According to one study, 23% were on the pill, 17% had an injectable/implant and 22% had been sterilized. In the last 25 years, the government has heavily campaigned for sex workers to use condoms under the 100% Condom Program. But they have not heavily focused on condom use in the general population. This has lead to many people outside of the sex worker community not using condoms, and instead opting for emergency contraception or contraception only instead.

What to Get & Where to Get It[edit]

Marvelon, a common birth control brand found in Thailand
Cerazette birth control pills purchased in Thailand
  • You can buy birth control pills in nearly all the pharmacies (excluding herbal pharmacies) in Thai cities. Some reputable pharmacies are Boots, Watsons, P&F, Fascino, Siam Pharmacies and the Chulalongkorn University Pharmacy. Buying from pharmacies that have air conditioning is recommended since the drugs are better preserved in cooler environments. For local recommendations on which hospitals/clinics to visit for consultations, visit our city pages, like the Bangkok and Chiang Mai pages.
  • Some birth control pill brands that you can expect to see in Thailand are AnNa, Anteovin, Cerazette, Diane-35, Eugynon, Exluton, Gynera, Jeny-FMP, Lo-Femenal, Logynon, Lyndiol 50, Marvelon 21, Marvelon 28, Meliane, Mercilon 21, Microgest ED, Microgynon, Minulet, Miranova, Nordette-28, Nordette-21, Yasmin and Yaz.
  • The contraceptive ring (Nuvaring) is not available in Thailand as of 2017. However, it was imported previously and perhaps will be again in the future.
  • Condoms are easy to find in most pharmacies. One restaurant in Bangkok, Condoms and Cabbages, even gives out free condoms (Sukhumvit 12 Alley, Khlong Toei, Bangkok 10110, Thailand). Note that Thai condoms run on the smaller side.
  • Brands of the birth control shot available in Thailand include Contracep, Depo-Gestin ANB, Depo-Progesno, Depo-Progesta, Depo-Provera, Depo-Medeton, and Noristerat.
  • Contraceptive implants are available, with brands such as Implanon, Jadelle, and Norplant.
  • Both Mirena (hormonal) and copper IUDs can be found in Thailand. King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital (1873, Rama 4 Road., Pathumwan, Bangkok, 10330, +6622564000 has been recommended as a relatively inexpensive place to buy IUDs and have them inserted.

Costs[edit]

A one month supply of birth control typically costs between 60 and 300 baht, which is about $2 - $10 (as of 2016).

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]

You should be able to buy emergency contraception with little social stigma in Bangkok. EC is cheap and widely used by Thais of all ages, including teenagers, living in Bangkok, and there are no restrictions imposed on its use.

What to Get & Where to Get It[edit]

In Thai, emergency contraception is ยากันท้อง or "Ya kun tong." You can get emergency contraception without a prescription at pharmacies. For dedicated EC pills (progestin only), there is Madonna and Postinor. For both brands, you take 2 pills within 120 hours after unprotected sex. For progestin-estrogen combined (birth control pills), you can take 2 pills within 120 hours after unprotected sex and take 2 more pills 12 hours later with the following brands: FMP, Jeny FMP, Nordiol, Ovidon and Ovral. You can also take 4 pills within 120 hours after unprotected sex and take 4 more pills 12 hours later with the following brands: Anna, Lo-Femenal, Microgest, Microgest ED, Microgynon 30 ED, Microgynon-30, Nordette, Nordette 28, Nordette-21, R-den, Riget, Rigevidon and Rigevidon 21 + 7.[1]

Costs[edit]

Emergency contraception was reported as 50 baht in 2009.

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]

Like all countries, there are stigmas attached to STDs in Thailand. But the country has also made solid progress in HIV prevention and education. According to AVERT, "In 2013, Thailand was one of only two countries in Asia and the Pacific, (along with Cambodia) that had more than 50% of people living with HIV on antiretroviral treatment. In Thailand, 56% of adults who are eligible for treatment are receiving it, alongside 62% of children."

What to Get & Where to Get It[edit]

  • Thai Red Cross - This tends to be the #1 place that many people go. You can get an anonymous STD test at Thai Red Cross (04 Ratchadamri Road, Pathumwan, Bangkok), where they typically focus on HIV, hepatitis and syphilis. If you want to get tested for gonorrhea and chlamydia, you may need to say that you display some symptoms because they have reportedly not wanted to test asymptomatic patients in the past.
  • For local recommendations of testing facilities, visit city pages like the Bangkok and Chiang Mai pages.

Costs[edit]

Here are the costs at MedConsult Bangkok: Syphilis test the VDRL 200 THB, HIV test 350 THB, Urethral swab 400 THB, Rapid chlamydia test 400 THB, HSV (Herpes) 750 THB, Pap Smear 1350 THB, HPV Vaccine 2500 THB, 3 dose package over 15 years 7000B, 2 dose package under 15 years 4700 B, PCR2 (NATO) (Gonorrhea and Chlamydia) 2800THB.

Medications & Vaccines[edit]

Pharmacy in Sakon Nakhon, Thailand

Laws & Social Stigmas[edit]

What to Get & Where to Get It[edit]

For many STD medications in Thailand, you may be tested in advance or show a prescription before receiving treatment (since they are antibiotics). But they should be generally available.For Trichomoniasis, Metronidazole should be available. For gonorrhea, the treatment is a bit more tricky, since gonorrhea in Asia (and specifically in Thailand) is resistant to many antibiotics. so you should go to the hospital to see how they can treat you. While treatment may vary, you may get Azithromycin or a a shot of a Cephalosporin. HPV vaccines, like Gardasil, are reportedly available in Thailand. PreP is available in Thailand, but is mostly used in trials with men who have sex with men (MSM), transgender (TG) women, women and people who inject drugs. Truvada is registered for treatment but not prevention. People with HIV/AIDS can bring their medications into Thailand, and there are no travel restrictions. Protease inhibitors only exist as original formula.

Some recommended pharmacies:

  • Boots: An international pharmacy chain
  • Watsons: An international pharmacy chain

Costs[edit]

Menstruation[edit]

Laws & Social Stigmas[edit]

What to Get & Where to Get It[edit]

Pads and tampons without applicators (OB) are widely available. You may be able to find tampons with applicators in Boots or other large pharmacies/drug stores. There are no known sellers for DivaCup or MoonCup in Thailand so you'll need to buy them online.

Costs[edit]

Gynecological Exams[edit]

Laws & Social Stigmas[edit]

What to Get & Where to Get It[edit]

From Pink Pangea: "Dr. Witima Sangtawan is a good gynecologist and she speaks good English. Her staff, however, speaks little to no English. She is located at BangPo hospital in BangSue, which is a bit off the beaten path. The hospital has very little English signage as well." Source: http://www.pinkpangea.com/tips-women-travelers-in-thailand/

Costs[edit]

Pregnancy[edit]

Laws & Social Stigmas[edit]

What to Get & Where to Get It[edit]

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 Thailand, abortion law is ambiguous. On the one hand, it is only legal under certain conditions, which are: to save the life of the woman, to preserve physical health, to preserve mental health, or when the pregnancy is due to a criminal offense (i.e. rape or incest). It is not legal for economic/social reasons or available upon request. Under the Thai Penal Code of November 13 1956, abortions are generally prohibited, and they are only allowed in certain instances. If women cause their own abortion or allow anyone else to do so (when they are not allowed to get an abortion), they face up to 3 years imprisonment and a fine of maximum 6000 baht. A person who procures an abortion with a pregnant woman's consent may receive up to 5 years imprisonment and a maximum fine of 10,000 baht.

On the other hand, according to a UN report, "In practice, the law is not rigorously enforced. The prevalence of illegal abortion has been widely documented, particularly in the rural areas of the country." There are supposed to be around 15 clinics that provide abortion care somewhat openly in Thailand, most notably Klongton Medical Center (โรงพยาบาลคลองตัน) in Bangkok.

What to Get & Where to Get It[edit]

Women receive illegal abortions or grey-area legal abortions in Thailand every year. In Bangkok, Klongton Medical Center (โรงพยาบาลคลองตัน) is the only known hospital to provide safe abortions to women (between 12-24 weeks of pregnancy) with little questions or restrictions. This hospital is expensive. For cheaper options, there are some less well-known or underground abortion clinics in Bangkok. But they may not be very safe, and they are not recommended. It is estimated that there are 400,000 illegal abortions in Thailand every year. For more information, check out this blog entry about getting an abortion at Klongton Medical Center (โรงพยาบาลคลองตัน) in 2011) and this Rewire article about abortions in Thailand.

Personal Testimonials[edit]

Testimonial 1: Getting an Abortion in Bangkok (testimonial from a foreigner in Thailand, 2017)[edit]

After searching the web for days and finding very little information on abortions here in Thailand, I’ve decided to write up about my experience so more people know what to do and what to expect.

As someone who had been living in Chiang Mai for over 10 months at the time, making what would be minimum wage in most Western countries, I wasn’t able to get myself to Bangkok as early as I would have liked. I had to save up a bit of money after paying rent and making sure I had enough to endure not only the procedure, which I had read could be anywhere from 2,000-5,000 baht, but also just the generally more expensive capital city.

Using online calculators and common sense, I figure I was about 8-9 weeks along. Too far along for what is called a “medical abortion,” which is taking a pill that basically forces an abortion (not sure if that’s even offered at this clinic, as I didn’t have any experience with it). I had to have a suction abortion, where, to my disadvantage, they usually do not dilate the cervix prior to the operation. A suction abortion is exactly what it sounds like and take about 3 minutes or so.

On the day of the procedure, I took a taxi to Cabbages and Condoms, the place I had read most about when I was doing research. When you walk into the parking lot of the restaurant you will see a big green sign with an arrow pointing left that says: “Clinic.” I followed that sign towards a set of stairs that I felt was a little bit in the open for what it was, right next to the entrance of the restaurant.

I walked up to the 2nd floor where I told the woman behind the desk I wanted an abortion. She took my passport and I sat and waited as she filled out my information. When she was finished, she called me to collect my papers and sent me upstairs to the 3rd floor. On the 3rd floor, I walked to the desk on the far right and handed the woman my papers. She asked me how far along I was and I told her I thought around 8 weeks. After about 2 minutes they called me into the ultrasound room where a woman took a quick picture and sent me on my way (she spoke the least English of everyone I interacted with). She didn’t tell me how far along I was and didn’t show me the screen but some curious part of me tried to peek unsuccessfully. I handed my papers to the lady at the desk again and she told me I had to pay 400 baht for the ultrasound (I’m not sure if any of the Thai women paid this fee).

From there, I handed my papers to the other desk on that floor and sat and waited about 5 minutes. There were maybe 7 other people there and they all looked at me as I was the only foreigner. I felt a little awkward but I believe I would feel just the same if there was also foreigners there.

I was called in to a room where I sat down with a woman who asked me some questions. She asked where I was from, how long I had been there and what my job was. As I’m studying Thai, I told her I did not have a job and was only a student (since the legalities of working online are questionable). She was very sweet and spoke a little bit of Thai to me. To my surprise, she asked what my boyfriend’s name was and what he did for a living and wrote it all on a piece of paper. She was surprised to hear he was Thai and asked me what his salary was. I told her I didn’t know, as this all felt very personal and as the relationship was ending. I didn't want to bring him into it. She took my phone and told me to go to another room where I would pay 3,500 baht. I think that the interviewer assesses your financial position and bases your fee on that. I had read that it could cost between 2,000 and 5,000 baht. Since the clinic helps low-income women as well, I think they do this to make sure everyone is charged reasonably for their income.

I went back to the waiting room for about 2 minutes. Then, me and two other Thai girls (who were probably close to my age, 22) were called in. We walked into a room and put our shoes in plastic bags. We continued on to another room, where we were sat on a couch and each were given a pill and some water and told it was for the pain (though I understood her saying in Thai that there would be no pain). The woman explained the process in Thai and handed me a paper with some very vague instructions in English. She brought us to another room and I was separated from the other girls and brought to a small room with a bed, a sarong and a curtain for a door. They told me to put on the sarong and lie in my bed and wait.

I waited for what felt like hours but was probably closer to 35 minutes. The room was freezing and I tried to use my sarong to cover my toes, which were losing feeling from being so cold. Finally, the woman came in to get me. She helped me fix my sarong and sat me in a group of chairs outside of a closed door. Another girl, different from the two that had come in with me was brought over 5 seconds later and sat across from me looking just as terrified as I’m sure I did. 

The door opened and out came one of the girls I had originally been brought in with. She was hunched over, holding tight to her lower stomach. She was rushed over to the beds where she had been lying prior. They called me in and it all went by so quickly.

I walked in the white medical room and, as they finished wiping the bed/seat, they told me to lie down. The nurse was very kind to me, asking about my Thai language school and all sorts of questions about living in Thailand. As she continued to attempt to comfort me with distracting conversations, the doctor came in and he told me to adjust myself back slightly with my thighs in the stirrups. He lifted my sarong and told me to relax my muscles.

Everything happened so quickly but at the same time felt like lifetimes. I could hear the suctioning of him manually pumping the syringe that was inside of me. At first there was a little pain but eventually it became unbearable. I couldn’t cry and my mouth was open, trying to let out a scream, as the nurse begged me not to and told me it was almost over. I thought she must have not wanted the girl waiting to be even more afraid then she probably already was. There were 2 very strong unbearable parts when the pain peaked, but after about 3 minutes, it was over.

They handed me a large sanitary pad to hold between my legs, under my sarong and just as the girl had before me, I shuffled back to my room with a nurse guiding me as I hunched over. I laid in my bed, curled up in a ball with what felt like the worst period pains I had ever had multiplied by 20. At this point, I was so thankful for the fact my room was freezing because sweat had soaked through my t-shirt and was dripping down my forehead. A nurse came in and told me to drink the tea they had brought me, but I couldn’t bear it and instead opted to lean over the bed with the garbage can next to me, as the pain made me feel like I was going to be sick. After a few minutes of moaning and whimpering the pain slowly faded away. Again, the nurse came in and handed me my tea, insisting I drink and telling me I could leave.

This is when the emotions kicked in and I just wanted to stay in the room and cry thinking about everything that had just happened, but I knew they wanted me to leave. I got dressed and made my way to the interview room. She explained to me again the things I needed to know for aftercare (i.e. take birth control every day for the month, antibiotics until they were complete and Ibuprofen for the pain). I started to cry and she gave me tissues and comforted me, which was really sweet of her. 

I walked out of the clinic, feeling a bit embarrassed as I walked past patients in the waiting room, trying to hold back tears. I went outside and ordered a motorbike taxi (bad idea, a seat in a cab would have been much more comfortable, but I didn’t want to sit in a car where someone would try and make conversation with me). When I got back to my hotel, I was still bleeding, but not as heavy as a period. I gave myself time to cry and be emotional but was so exhausted, both emotionally and physically, so I decided to take a nap. 

The morning sickness, which had prevented me from eating anything more than a smoothie a day for the past 2 weeks, disappeared almost immediately. I still had sore breasts for a couple of days and remained very tired for a couple of weeks. I felt extremely sad and depressed for a month and it’s slowly been getting better. Now, 3 months later, I feel a lot better about my decision than 2 weeks after the procedure, but it’s still the hardest thing I’ve ever done, even knowing it’s what I needed to do.

Overall, my experience at this clinic was a much more professional experience than what I had expected. Everything was sanitary and in order. While not everyone I interacted with was oozing friendliness, they were all very helpful and considerate with what they did. I know that the fact I could speak a little Thai probably contributed to how kind they were to me, so don’t expect too much other than women just doing their jobs. I was fine afterwards, no infections or complications and am so grateful that this facility was available to me in Bangkok.

Location: Next to Cabbages and Condoms restaurant on Sukhumvit 12 Total cost: 3,900 baht
 Total time: 1.5 hours

Testimony 2: December 2018[edit]

Have visited the same as mentioned clinic, which is above Cabbage and Condoms. The whole procedure was done immediately and took about 1 hour and 30 minutes, from waiting to the procedure and so on. Price costed about 4100 baht. Procedure was a bit painful but since, it had to be done, I won’t complain.

Advocacy & Counseling[edit]

Laws & Social Stigmas[edit]

What to Get & Where to Get It[edit]

  • Global Alliance Against Trafficking Women (GAATW), 191 Sivalai Condominium, Issaraphap Road, Soi 33, Bangkok Yai, 10600 Bangkok, Thailand, Mailing address:, PO Box 1281, Bangkok Post Office,, Bangkok 10500, Thailand, Tel: 662 8641427/28, Fax: 662 864163, E-mail: mailto:gaatw@mozart.inet.co.th, URL: http://www.inet.co.th/org/gaatw
  • Foundation for Women (FFW) - Does preventative/awareness work around domestic violence and trafficking of women (http://www.womenthai.org/eng)

Costs[edit]

List of Additional Resources[edit]

  • Ministry of Public Health (Thailand)
  • Planned Parenthood Foundation Association of Thailand: "The Planned Parenthood Association of Thailand (PPAT) supports the National Family Planning Programme by organizing countrywide educational and motivational activities, and by delivering contraceptive services to special target groups/geographic areas including slum dwellers, the population along the Thai-Cambodia border, and northern hill tribes."
  • Equaldex Thailand: Information on LGBTQ rights and laws in Thailand.
  • Global Alliance Against Trafficking Women (GAATW), 191 Sivalai Condominium, Issaraphap Road, Soi 33, Bangkok Yai, 10600 Bangkok, Thailand, Mailing address:, PO Box 1281, Bangkok Post Office,, Bangkok 10500, Thailand, Tel: 662 8641427/28, Fax: 662 864163, E-mail: mailto:gaatw@mozart.inet.co.th, URL: http://www.inet.co.th/org/gaatw
  • Tangerine Community Health Center Thailand: Asia's first transgender clinic, located in Bangkok.
  • National Council of Women of Thailand - http://www.inet.co.th/org/ncwt
  • National Commission on Women's Affairs (Thailand) - http://www.inet.co.th/org/tncwa
  • National Council of Women, Clearinghouse and Information Centre - Bangkok 10200
  • Thailand Gender Development and Research Institute - 501/1 Mu 3Dechatungka Road, Sikan, Donmuagn, Bangkok 10210, Thailand
  • Asian Confederation of Women's Organizations - 127/1 Sukumvit 79, Bangkok 10250, Thailand
  • National Council For Women of Thailand, Umbrella Organisation - Manangkasila Mansion, Lanluang Road, Bangkok 10300, Thailand, T: 2 281 0081, F: 2 281 2189
  • Foundation For Women - 35/267 Charansanitwongse Road 62, Soi Wat Paorohit, Bangkoknoi, Bangkok 10700., Thailand, Mailing address:
  • Foundation of Women -P.O. Box 47 Bangkoknoi, Bangkok 10700, Thailand
  • Friends of Women Foundation (Grassroots Women's Network-GROWNET) - 218/16 Soi Pradipat 18, Phayathai, Bangkok 10400, Thailand, Tel: 279-0867, 278-3551
  • Women's Information Centre and Foundation - 2/3 Soi Wang Lang, Arunamarin Road, Bangkok 10700, Thailand, Mail address:, P.O. Box 7-47, Bangkok 10700
  • EMPOWER Foundation, supports women in the sex industry - 57/60 Tivanond Road, Nontburi 11000, Thailand, Tel: 02-526-8311, 02-968-8021,, 02-968-8022, Fax: 02-526-3294
  • Women in Development Consortium (WIDCIT) - Network for women in development, Office of the Rector, Thammasat University, Bangkok, Thailand

References[edit]

  1. Princeton EC Website