Question From a Reader: Contraceptive Pills

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Rather than have it hidden unanswered on an old post, and ironically one rather critical of the Yaz (야즈) contraceptive pill at that(!), let me post this question from a reader here:

This may seem strange after reading the comments but I am a Yaz user and I really like it and I am new to Korea and next month my last pack of Yaz will finish. Does anyone know where I can find Yaz in Korea? Is it even available in Korea or perhaps does it go by a different name. Any help would be much appreciated.

Hey, whatever works for her, and I’ll take a look at Korean websites for more information if necessary. But can any readers with more practical knowledge help?^^

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11 thoughts on “Question From a Reader: Contraceptive Pills

  1. When I lived in Korea form 06-08, Yasmin and Yaz were not available, but they were going to be made available according to a document Good Man found online. He called the company and found out that they would be made available in six months. (The woman was apparently shocked, shocked, I tell you that he found the document and that HE called about it.)

    When we were back there six months ago, Yasmin was only available with a doctor’s prescription and was not yet available over the counter. I’m not sure about Yaz, but since they’re from the same company, I assume if Yasmin is available, so is Yaz. Also, perhaps you could find a pharmacy willing to sell it over the counter?

    Barring those options, if the reader is really set on Yaz but can’t get a prescription in Korea for whatever reason, she can do what I did: I got a prescription before I left for one year, talked to my OBGYN, and went to CanadaPharmacy.com to get the prescription filled. I had the pills sent to my mother who forwarded them to me. Did this for two years and not once were the pills taken by customs, and I’m pretty sure my mom even wrote “medicine” on the packages!

    It killed me to do so because BCP are so much cheaper in Korea, but it worked.

    (Now, Yaz is awful. Yasmin? If they ever stop making it, I’ll learn to cook it up in my own kitchen.)

    • Thanks to both of you, although do you mean with a doctor’s prescription Marta? If so, I’m curious: what makes both of them different to other brands that don’t require a prescription?

      Your comment about having pills sent from Canada reminds me of how bizarre the criteria are for what can and can’t be sent here, and how (like everything else official in Korea) it all depends on whims of the officials themselves really. For instance, when my wife and I were first dating 10 years ago, I had to get my gay ex-Eastern Orthodox monk friend (it’s a long story) to send me a pack of Western brand condoms from New Zealand (alas, they’re easily available on GMarket etc. now), and he wrote “medical supplies” on the box and they arrived just fine. 3 boxes sent later by his gay prostitute nephews didn’t though (an even longer story), and considering that they were all sent separately, but they also (stupidly) wrote “condoms” on each, then it’s difficult not to conclude that that’s why they were confiscated.

      Sorry for the tangent, but it was very annoying at the time of course, and my first taste of how things are really run here.

  2. Both are available, and I think the prescription is required because their chemical configuration is slightly different (particularly the form of progesterone they use) and can be used for treating PMDD (Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder) and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (POS). It’s almost certainly the progesterone that makes the doctor’s trip necessary. Of course, it may also be a matter of time, too . . . most of the other birth control pills on the market and over the counter here have been around for a while. Other forms of hormonal birth control, like the patch and nuvaring, are also available but only by prescription as well.

    • In my experience, ANY birth control pill can be used to treat PCOS. It’s just that some work better for different women depending on their unique hormones. There’s nothing magical about Yasmin/Yaz and PCOS.

      You could use any of the OTC BCP in Korea to treat the symptoms of PCOS, too.

      • Some women experience relief from the symptoms of PCOS on other birth control pills, but apparently Yasmin’s progestin contains antiandrogens that help many women with the condition. As for PMDD, Yasmin is the only birth control pill that’s proven effective, and works about as well as the typical treatment, selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors.
        Whether this person wants to use in to treat PCOS, PMDD, or has just found it the most compatible, it’s fairly legitimate to want to seek out the kind you’re most used to. Furthermore, if continuous protection is important, you have to have access to the same brand you’ve been using.

        • I agree that a woman should use what’s best for her.

          But your reply sounded to me like you thought part of the reason it was a prescription in Korea is because Yasmin/Yaz could be used to treat PCOS, as if other BCP couldn’t be used. I don’t know why Yasmin/Yaz is prescription-only in Korea, but I don’t think the fact that it’s used for the symptoms PCOS is the reason since all sorts of BCP–including the ones OTC in Korea–can be used to treat the symptoms of PCOS. That was my point.

          I suspect it’s prescription only because it’s newer than everything else, but that’s just a guess.

  3. Thank you all for your help. So, does anyone know of an English speaking doctor in Korea? Actually I’m only kidding, I have managed to find one.

  4. What is the legal age in Korea to get over the counter pills? I’m an American visitor (19 years old, Korean age) and I am interested in buying bc pills.

    • I’m pretty sure that legally you’re fine, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a few pharmacists were reluctant to sell it to you for being too young regardless, especially if you look Korean. But don’t hold me to that though (naturally, I have no personal experience of buying the pill), as Gomushin Girl often tells me that those sorts of things don’t really happen in Seoul anymore.

      • > pharmacists were reluctant to sell it to you for being too young

        If this IS a problem, they way around it – other than punching them in their face for sticking their nose where it doesn’t belong – is to visit a doctor at a university hospital. They will probably have other patients your age using the same meds. And, best of all, most of them use an automated system for sending your prescription to an outside pharmacy. You just walk into the pharmacy and pick up the bag with your name on it.

        I’ve found this to also be helpful when you have (or need) a prescription for less common medicine. Even if the filling pharmacy doesn’t have it, they have a way to get it in short order.

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