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Informative Blog Written by Teachers Living in Korea !

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For the Ladies Moving to Korea - Here's What you Need to Know!

  
  
  

One of my chief concerns when I moved to Korea was my feminine health: Will I be able to get birth control? See a gyno? Buy condoms? Use tampons? I had heard that tampons were hard to find and very expensive. I had also heard that birth control was over the counter, but had absolutely no idea what brands Korea offers or how to ask for them. I entertained this horrific image of me carrying a suite case filled with a year’s supply of tampons, birth control pills, and condoms through baggage check. In this nightmare, the airport attendants scanned the contents of my bag with judgement in their eyes and wondered what must be wrong with this obviously promiscuous girl. Luckily, I have gleaned from my time in Korea some tips and tricks for taking care of yourself during “lady time”, how to acquire the pill, and the scoop on Korean condoms. Read on for all the juicy details.

Tampons and Pads: Pads are EVERYWHERE in Korea. You can find them at grocery and convenience stores such as 7 Eleven and Family Mart. However, if you want tampons you will pay a higher price than in the States or Canada and they are, indeed, more difficult to find. Trick: If you don’t want to pay the extra money and would rather not stuff your luggage with Playtex, I highly recommend investing in a Diva Cup. This menstrual cup is PERFECT for travel and, due to it’s reusable nature, is eco-friendly. I purchased one just before I left the states and my periods have never been happier!

The Pill: Many generic and name-brand contraceptives are over the counter in Korea (Yeah, the U.S. needs to get with the program). However, there are some popular pills like YAZ, which you will need a prescription for. Not to worry. Your school will supply you with EXCELLENT insurance, which will cover a visit to the gynecologist and birth control. Trick: If you do not want the hassle of going to the gyno, try this over the counter oral contraceptive that is very popular in Korea: Minulet. Luckily, most pharmacists in Korea speak a bit of English and know the English pronunciations for most name-brand drugs. However, if you run into a language breakdown, merely say “pim”, the Korean word for pill. The pharmacist will know exactly what you’re asking for and; as an added bonus, they don’t judge you: Korean’s are fairly open about periods and reproductive health. In fact, I’ve seen many Korean men buying their girlfriend’s/wife’s contraception or picking up pads at the store.

The Lady Doctor: Finding a gynecologist in Korea was very easy. Womens Health is a priority here and, from my experience, Korean doctors are well-trained and highly educated. An added bonus: many of the doctors in Korea speak English. My gynecologist, dentist, general practitioner, and acupuncturist ALL happen to speak fluent English. Furthermore, if you have health insurance, this makes visiting the doctor EXTREMELY cheap. Most visits have a co-pay between $8-$15 USD (or zero money, depending on your plan) and medication such as antibiotics, birth control, asthma inhalers, and cold medicine, are far cheaper than in the states. Trick: Talk with female co-workers who have been in the country for awhile, or the Korean staff at your school. They may be able to recommend a good gyno.

Condoms: Anytime you are a sexually active and traveling, I recommend that you practice safe sex at all times. You can easily purchase condoms in grocery and convenience stores throughout Korea. Keep in mind, they do tend to be smaller than the condoms distributed in the United States. As such, if you have a brand that you’re particularly fond of, I recommend bringing along a box or two. Trick: If you find that you’ve run out of your favorite Trojans, you can always have a good friend ship you a box from back home.

So in conclusion female and male readers - enjoy your time in Korea. Be safe and take care of your body by following these simple and convenient tips and tricks. Questions? Leave a comment, and I'll get right back to you.

After receiving her degree in Secondary English Education from Indiana University, Hope Gately wanted to experience Korea's famous educational system, which is currently ranked #2 worldwide. She began teaching at the Pohang-Namgu branch of ChungDahm Learning in Korea last year, after being recruited by Aclipse. Since Hope is an avid hiker, foodie, and fashion enthusiast, she loves living in Korea and enjoys the mountains, cuisine, and "Kill-Heels." Questions about teaching in Korea? Follow Hope on Twitter at www.twitter.com/AclipseHope and email her at Aclipsehope@gmail.com!

 


Comments

I use the Korean brand Tempo - they're pretty comparable to American brands, and a little bit cheaper (but still more expensive than tampons back home). It's pretty hard to find tampons in large boxes, though - and if you are a fan of the extra-super, forget about it.  
 
Birth control pills are available over the counter, but morning after pills are not. The type of birth controls available otc are also not the kind that you can take a bunch of to mimic a morning after pill. You will have to go to the doctor and actually have an exam (as opposed to just the questions they ask you in America) in order to get a prescription for one. 
 
Ladies, if you plan on hooking up with Korean boys, BE REALLY CAREFUL. Condoms are not widely used here (although they are available), and very few will be prepared. If he tries to talk you into going for things sans protection, remember the important phrase: no glove, no love.
Posted @ Tuesday, March 15, 2011 9:41 AM by female teacher in korea
Your blog has been immensely helpful. Teaching has crossed my mind and even though I have a full-time job as Young Adults Librarian and am leaning towards doing something different the way things operate did worry me a bit. And even though I don't have many heath issues the things I do need would be a pain to take in bulk.
Posted @ Tuesday, May 03, 2011 4:58 PM by Leslie Davis
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Posted @ Monday, August 08, 2011 2:56 AM by sunglasses
hi, do you know anything about where i can the morning after pill in seoul? hospitals have been surprisingly unhelpful and i tried to book an appointment at an english-speaking obgyn but they 
redirected me to the local er which was a disaster of an experience...any info would be appreciated. am here for work and had a bit of an accident last night...thank you so much
Posted @ Monday, August 29, 2011 12:39 AM by accidents happen...
Would their be other expats to choose from? What are the Korean cultural norms and values about dating? Luckily, thanks to the extensive experience of my friends, and my own research, I can now report that the dating scene is alive and thriving in the ROK for expats and Koreans alike. So read on for some tips and tricks to dating, relationships, and finding love abroad.
Posted @ Wednesday, January 18, 2012 7:30 PM by asics australia
Just for information's sake, if you need the morning after pill, don't bother trying to get it in Korea, going through the exam and all that. Instead, just buy some birth control pills and take a larger dose and do it as soon after sex as possible.  
 
For example, here's something that gives you an idea of doses. http://ec.princeton.edu/questions/dose.html 
 
Posted @ Monday, March 19, 2012 8:57 PM by Jay
Since this is a Ladies blog. I have a question regarding, female ex-pats and tattoo's. I am worried since I am female and have a full back & side piece done that this will be a problem. I keep my tatt's covered at all time because they are for me and no one else to see. But I am worried if I get asked to go to a Korean bathhouse. Will I be ok or am I stressing over nothing?
Posted @ Saturday, June 16, 2012 9:30 PM by Katie
You won't have any problems having tattoos in Korea, even concerning bath houses. There are so many expats in Korea any many of them have tattoos. If you go to a bath house in Seoul's Itaewon section chances are you will see another person with a tattoo as well. You might get some glances if you use a bath house in a more rural area. But this is generally out of curiosity and not judgement. So be proud of your tattoos and experience everything Korea has to offer!
Posted @ Tuesday, July 17, 2012 1:05 PM by Angelina
ok, I'm kind of in a bind here and hope you can answer quickly... Can you tell me where in Seoul you saw a gynecologist and who it was? I'm in Seoul for 5 weeks and have a yeast infection *YIKES*. I have no idea what to do :(
Posted @ Saturday, July 21, 2012 11:47 AM by JoAnna
Thank you so much for this! I'm going on Study Abroad to Seoul in Feb, and I was curious about condoms over there, because I know the culture is very hush-hush about sex. I am totally going to buy a DivaCup before I leave, because I refuse to spend my souvenir money on tampons haha.  
 
A random question though - how often to you see interracial couples over there? I'm Caucasian and I find Korean men exceptionally attractive (honestly one of the many reasons why I chose Seoul for my study abroad experience) - but it seems like most Korean men are not interested in white women...do you think this is true?
Posted @ Thursday, November 15, 2012 9:07 PM by Christine
If you are a Lady of olive or dark complexion, be sure to take your make-up with you. In Korea part of beauty is paleness, so finding make-up in your shade will most likely be difficult.
Posted @ Monday, November 25, 2013 8:59 PM by Amber Alder
@christine 
don't worry about korean men being attracted to white women. i dated a few korean and japanese guys who were studing abroad in the states, and they were completely stoked to have an american girlfriend.  
(long-lasting relationships might be more of a problem because of cultural differences but as for hookups or short-term, i wouldnt be concerned.) 
in fact, most korean men ive talked to seem to think westerners are the ones who dont find them attractive. (stemming from the many racial stereotypes in the West of nerdy wimpy asian computer whizzes and not enough exposure to Rain and 2PM) 
 
i WOULD however take the advice about condom-use...none of the korean guys i mentioned wore condoms, i had to start bringing my own and beg them to use them. which was incredibly embarassing for me, im super shy about that kind of thing. if you have your own bc method thats great, but dont forget the dangers of STIs, which are not as widely talked/warned about as they are here.
Posted @ Sunday, January 05, 2014 9:12 PM by lynn
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