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fitfortravel

Travel health information for people travelling abroad from the UK

Advice for Female Travellers

Female travellers may face travel health issues that do not affect men. For example, female travellers may need to consider their menstruation patterns, the availability of sanitary hygiene products and hormonal contraception, they may have an increased risk of deep-vein thrombosis (DVT), and they may be travelling when pregnant or when breastfeeding.

Menstruation

The stressful nature of travel may lead to emotional upset and travelling through different time zones can be exhausting; these factors may upset usual menstrual patterns. Dysmenorrhoea (period pain) may also be made worse by travel.
Additionally, travelling through different time zones can cause confusion regarding the best timing of oral contraception and in the worst case scenario could lead to unplanned pregnancy.

Suppressing Menstruation

Menstrual bleeding can be managed by extended or continuous administration of the combined Oral Contraceptive Pill (COCP); this, however, is not the case with the Progesterone Only Pill (POP).

For those not on COCP it may be possible to obtain a prescription of norethisterone to delay menstruation, travellers interested in this option should discuss it with a suitably qualified healthcare professional.

Sanitary Hygiene

Female travellers are encouraged to consider how they will obtain and dispose of their sanitary hygiene products. Tampons and sanitary towels may be unobtainable in parts of Africa, Asia and South America, and may be scare in Eastern Europe. Locally made menstrual supplies are usually available although standards can vary.

Female travellers should be sensitive to the cultural and religious attitudes towards menstruation; for example in some countries it is forbidden to enter places of worship while menstruating. Discreet use of and disposal of sanitary towels and tampons is advisable. In many parts of the world, sanitary products cannot be disposed of in a toilet and care should be taken to dispose of them in an environmentally sensitive way.

Deep-Vein Thrombosis Risk

Women using contraceptive patches, contraceptive vaginal rings, oral or injectable contraceptives have an increased risk of deep-vein thrombosis during travel involving long periods of immobility (over 4 hours). DVT risks may be reduced by appropriate exercise during the journey and using anti-embolism stockings.

Personal Safety

Female travellers may be specifically targeted by criminals. As with any traveller, they should be encouraged to research their intended destinations. Gathering knowledge of intended destinations may increase awareness of potential risks, allowing female travellers to best prepare themselves in advance of travel.

Pregnancy, Pre-conception, Breastfeeding and Bottle-feeding

Pregnant women and breastfeeding women are in an altered state of health that requires practical consideration prior to travel. Travelling whilst pregnant or breastfeeding may prove more challenging but with careful planning it can be made as safe as possible.

Culture Shock

Cultural attitudes towards women vary greatly around the world. Experiencing cultures with differing values, customs and social behaviors towards women may leave female travellers vulnerable to culture shock. Female travellers are encouraged to consider the cultural background of intended destinations prior to travel.

Further information

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