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United Arab Emirates

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OVERVIEW

While the UAE is very international, there are many restrictions to consider. Abortion is illegal, dedicated emergency contraception is unavailable (though you can use normal contraceptives) and you must technically be married in order to purchase contraception (though this does not seem to be enforced in most scenarios). It is also illegal to be unmarried and pregnant -- and, if caught, a woman can face deportation (if she's foreign) or imprisonment (if she's Emirati or foreign).There is little data surrounding women's sexual practices in the UAE. However, it is a radically international country, allowing a wide range of people to make their mark, despite the conservative cultural and political climate.

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]

You can buy oral contraceptives (birth control pills) without a prescription in the United Arab Emirates.[1] No matter if you're married or single, locals report that you can buy birth control pills. Although premarital sex is illegal in the UAE, you can typically buy pills as a single woman in Dubai.

The same holds true for condoms. While you technically need to be married to use condoms, this does not seem to be widely enforced, and you should be able to purchase condoms at supermarkets, gas stations, grocery stores and pharmacies. Note that this is not the case throughout UAE, and you will need to show proof of marriage in places like Abu Dhabi.

In Dubai, there have been some reported cases of the following: women being asked for marriage certificates before buying contraception, women being asked for their husband's permission before receiving contraception, and women being reported by pharmacists to authorities for buying contraception while being unmarried. These stories have been especially covered in the British media. Yet many single women of Dubai report little to no problems when purchasing contraception and Dubai pharmacists have contested this story. However, it may be recommended to wear a "wedding ring" if you are indeed single and wish to purchase contraception to avoid questioning or slut-shaming. See this Guardian article for details.

Generally, oral contraceptives seem to be widely used in the UAE. In 2012, a study of 500 women found that oral birth control pills were the most common form of contraception, and 84% of women did not object to the use of contraceptives. In a 2015 UN report, it was found that 48.1% of UAE women (who are married/in unions and of reproductive age) use some form of contraception, which may include modern methods (such as condoms, pills, implants, etc) or traditional methods (such as the rhythm method).[2]

According to a UN report, "The United Arab Emirates does not have an official family planning programme. Access to contraceptive methods is officially restricted only for unmarried adolescents. Among citizens, the modern contraceptive prevalence rate was estimated at 24 per cent of married women 15-49 in 1995. The United Arab Emirates made substantial improvements in the availability of contraception from private as well as public sources in the 1990s, mainly in response to the growing demand for contraception among its relatively wealthy and educated population."

What to Get & Where to Get It[edit]

  • For a complete list of contraceptive options available in the UAE, click here.
  • There are over 20 birth control pill brands registered in the UAE, all of which come from major pharmaceutical companies like Janssen-Cilag, Merck, Pfizer and Bayer. It's common for locals to buy birth control pills at Boots, one of the largest pharmacy chains in Dubai, which can be often found in malls. Some of the birth control brands you can expect to see are Cerazette,[3] Cilest, Diane, Diane-35, Exluton, Femulen, Gynera, Loestrin 20, Loestrin 30, Logynon, Marvelon, Microgynon, Microgynon-30, Micronor, Microval, Minulet, Nordette, Ortho Novum 1/50, Ovulen 50, Ovysmen, Trinordiol, Trinordiol 21, Trinovum, Yaz and Yasmin.[4]
  • If you want an IUD, you can find Mirena in the UAE.[5]
  • If you want a contraceptive shot/injectable, you can find Depo-Provera SAS 150mg/ml in the UAE.[6]
  • We're not sure if any contraceptive patches or contraceptive implants are registered or available in the UAE. If you know of any, please add the info to this page.

Costs[edit]

A few years ago, you could get a one month supply of birth control for about $5, but we'll need some more updated information (information provided in 2016/2017).

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. Copper IUDs may also prevent pregnancy up to 5 days after unprotected sex.

Laws & Social Stigmas[edit]

Emergency contraception, or 'the morning after pill,' is not allowed in Dubai or the Emirates. However, women do use oral contraceptives as emergency contraception, as this tends to be the only option available (see next section for details). In 2015, some UAE doctors called for an end to the ban on emergency contraception pills, but the ban remains in effect.

What to Get & Where to Get It[edit]

You can use some oral contraceptive pills (birth control pills) as emergency contraception. You can take Microval (take 50 pills within 120 hours after unprotected sex) or Neogynon (take 2 pills within 120 hours after unprotected sex and take 2 more pills 12 hours later). There's also Logynon (take ochre pills only), Microgynon-30, Nordette -- and for all of these, take 4 pills within 120 hours after unprotected sex and take 4 more pills 12 hours later. Note that in 28-day packs, only the first 21 pills can be used.[7]

Costs[edit]

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]

As reported by Emirates 24/7: "A friendly voice over the phone informed this reporter that HIV testing was a very normal procedure in Dubai, with a simple blood test was all it took to determine your fate. The questions were being posed to a staff member of one of the leading medical clinics in Dubai, which, among other lab work, specialises in STD testing. However, as soon as this reporter quizzed about the standard procedure adopted if a person tested positive for HIV, the call was immediately transferred to another member of staff, who in a hushed tone, informed us that results would be strictly between doctor and patient for an extra fee. When probed further, the helpful staff member assured us that no information would be leaked out to any ‘official authority’ considering the testing was done on the premises itself and confidentiality would be adopted." (Source: HIV+? Don't worry, some UAE clinics won't tell authorities)

What to Get & Where to Get It[edit]

  • Zack Medical Center - "Discreet medical help for those in distress." Provides tests & treatment for Gonorrhoea, Chlamydia, Herpes, Syphilis, Trichomonas, Mycoplasma, Ureaplasma, BV, Yeast, Molluscum, Scabies, Crabs (Address: 305, Emgate Building, Sheikh Zayed Road south, On opposite side of Business Bay Metro Station, Ph: +97143884 111, Ph: 800-STD (800783), Mobile: +971503821800, email@std.co, Website: http://www.stdscan.com/).
  • Fakih Medical Center - Seems to test for and treat vaginal pain, vaginal bleeding and STDs. (Phone: 800-FAKIH (32544). Website: http://fakihmedicalcenter.com/)
  • Ultracare Medical Group - Tests for HIV, Syphillis, Gonorrehea, Herpes 1, Herpes 2, Chlamydia, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C. Also offers Pre-Marital STD test screening. Results usually available the same day if sample is given before 12 noon by phone or email. If you would like to schedule an appointment or have a medical related question, call the office Saturday to Thursday 9:00a.m. - 7:00p.m. Phone: +(9714) 2230033. Website: http://www.ultracaremedicalgroup.com/Dubai_Sexual_Health_Checkup.html.

Costs[edit]

Medications & Vaccines[edit]

Pharmacy in street of Dubai

Laws & Social Stigmas[edit]

There are two HPV vaccines available in Dubai (Gardasil and Cervarix). There is no PreP access and foreign HIV/AIDS patients (if they are residing in UAE) are typically deported from the country. If doctors find that a patient has HIV/AIDS or Hepatitis, they are required to report this information to the authorities.

What to Get & Where to Get It[edit]

  • American Hospital - For information about HPV vaccinations, contact the American Hospital on 04 336 7777.
  • Zack Medical Center - "Discreet medical help for those in distress." Provides medication for Gonorrhoea, Chlamydia, Herpes, Syphilis, Trichomonas, Mycoplasma, Ureaplasma, BV, Yeast, Molluscum, Scabies, Crabs (Address: 305, Emgate Building, Sheikh Zayed Road south, On opposite side of Business Bay Metro Station, Ph: +97143884 111 Ph: 800-STD (800783), Mobile: +971503821800, email@std.co, Website: http://www.stdscan.com/).
  • Fakih Medical Center - Seems to test for and treat vaginal pain, vaginal bleeding and STDs. (Phone: 800-FAKIH (32544). Website: http://fakihmedicalcenter.com/)

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]

While tampons are permitted in UAE, they are not sold in all shops. If you're traveling to UAE from somewhere else, you may want to bring tampons in your luggage.

What to Get & Where to Get It[edit]

  • You should be able to easily find pads and pantyliners in many stores.
  • You may be able to find tampons in larger or international stores, like Carrefour, Spinney, Al Maya or Choithram, but many women report difficulty when looking for them.
  • If you're interested in menstrual cups, you can buy the DivaCup at Organic Foods & Café (Tel: 971 4 3384822), which has three locations (Village Mall, Sheikh Zayed Road and near Dubai Media City).[8] The Emirati online retailer, Desert Cart, sells many brands of menstrual cups as well (and provides free shipping in the Emirates). Some of the brands they sell include DivaCup (for AED 139), Monzcare R-CUP (for AED 53), Blossom Menstrual Cup (AED 77), LENA Feminine Hygiene Cup (AED 127) and more (all prices from May 2017). While MoonCup is sold internationally in Boots pharmacies[9], we're not sure if they're sold anywhere in the UAE. However, not all menstrual cup brands are sold in the UAE. For example, if you're interested in purchasing a LadyCup, RubyCup or Lunette, we can't find any evidence of them being sold locally in the UAE, so those brands should be purchased online.

Costs[edit]

Gynecological Exams[edit]

Laws & Social Stigmas[edit]

What to Get & Where to Get It[edit]

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 UAE, abortion is illegal. It is only permitted when the woman's life is endangered by the pregnancy, which must be carried out by a gynecologist and approved by a physician who is a specialist in the area that causes the woman's endangerment. In all scenarios, including rape/incest, abortion is illegal. Misoprostol (the abortion pill) is reportedly available under the brand names Arthrotec and Cytotec, but it is very difficult to find. If someone induces an abortion in the UAE, they are subject to up five years of imprisonment under the Penal Code of 20 December 1987.

What to Get & Where to Get It[edit]

Misoprostol (the abortion pill) is reportedly available under the brand names Arthrotec and Cytotec. You can supposedly find it at some hospitals. Though, according to a UN report, "Very little reliable informatio is available on the incidence of abortion, both legal and illegal, in the United Arab Emirates."

If you are considering leaving the country for an abortion, you can get a legal abortion in Turkey, Greece, Georgia or Azerbaijan. If you are interested in traveling to Europe, there are also many countries where abortion is legal.

Costs[edit]

Advocacy & Counseling[edit]

Laws & Social Stigmas[edit]

What to Get & Where to Get It[edit]

  • Dubai Foundation for Women and Children - "The first licensed non-profit shelter in the UAE for victims of women & children." +971 800 111, PO Box 97727, Dubai, United Arab Emirates. http://www.dfwac.ae/

Costs[edit]

List of Additional Resources[edit]

References[edit]

  1. Global Oral Contraception Availability
  2. Trends in Contraceptive Use 2015
  3. [Information provided by Dubai local]
  4. IPPF UAE
  5. IPPF UAE
  6. IPPF UAE
  7. Princeton EC Website
  8. Menstrual Cup Map
  9. Boots - Menstrual Cups