Newborn care is far from easy but luckily it gets easier after a couple of weeks (or months) once you and your baby get used to this new life. As things settle in, you and your partner can finally resume the most intimate aspects of your relationship. As you may not be thinking of having another baby yet, let us help you review your birth control options so you can enjoy each other without worries.
Breastfeeding and fertility
During breastfeeding your body naturally produces the hormone prolactin, which stimulates the production of milk. Prolactin is known to interfere with ovulation, especially when you are exclusively breastfeeding your baby. In some women, this hormonal change during breastfeeding stops ovulation, but other women do not experience this temporary state of infertility. Therefore, it is advised to still explore postpartum birth control even as you are not menstruating while breastfeeding. Unfortunately, commonly used hormonal birth control options are limited for breastfeeding mums because estrogen can decrease milk production. Hence hormonal contraceptives containing estrogen are generally not advised to be used while breastfeeding or planning to breastfeed.
Most common postpartum contraceptives in Hong Kong
Condoms – Both male and female versions are available, though the male option is most prevalent. A pack of ten condoms will set you back about HK$100 in stores. They’re the best last-minute option and can be found in pharmacies and at your neighborhood Seven Eleven. You can get a dozen male condoms for HK$40 at Family Planning Association Hong Kong (FPAHK) Clinics (details below).
Hormonal Contraceptives – These come in oral, patch, implant and injectable formats and can combine estrogen and progesterone or contain the latter only (often referred to as the mini-pill). Pills are taken daily, patches changed weekly, and implants and injections are available in monthly or quarterly doses administered by your doctor. For breastfeeding mums, the most suitable contraceptives only contain progesterone, which limits your options to the mini-pill and progesterone shots. In FPAHK clinics the costs for the oral contraceptives range between HK$50-100 per month and injectable contraceptives are HK$60-70 per dose.
Intra Uterine Devices (IUDs) – A small T-shaped device containing copper or a progesterone-containing coil is inserted into the uterus by your doctor. Both options are available at FPAHK Birth Control Clinics in Hong Kong and costs HK$270 and HK$1,800, respectively. Both IUDs are usually good for 4-10 years, depending on the model.
Sterilization – A permanent birth control solution when you and your partner do not want to conceive anymore. Women can undergo tubal ligations and men vasectomies.
While some generic oral contraceptives are sold over the counter, it is recommended to talk to your doctor before starting or changing birth control methods, especially if you are breastfeeding or considering to breastfeed. Also, your medical history can dictate which option is more suitable for your situation. Options such as patches, implants, injectables and IUDs are available by prescription only and administered by a doctor when applicable. Note that most private health insurance policies do not cover contraception.
Emergency contraceptive pills can be taken within 72-120 hours after unprotected sexual intercourse or an IUD can be inserted within 5 days of unprotected sex. Since in Hong Kong you need a prescription to obtain emergency contraception at pharmacies, you’ll need to see a doctor first. If you take the public route, you can visit the Family Planning Birth Control Clinic or, if you are under 26 and not married, the Youth Health Care Centres. Women in urgent need of service outside regular opening hours may attend the Accident & Emergency Department of the Hospital Authority, Maternal & Child Health Centres, or private hospitals/clinics. Anyone can go to a private clinic or hospital, but charges will vary.
It is advised that mums do not breastfeed after taking emergency contraceptive pills. Contact your doctor if you’ve questions on emergency contraceptive pills.
FPAHK Birth Control Clinics
Open to married couples under 26 and unmarried persons over 26 years of age. Six locations across Hong Kong (appointment not needed):
Wan Chai Clinic: G/F Southorn Centre, 130 Hennessy Road
Hours: Mon – Fri 9:00am – 8:00pm, Sat 9:00am – 5:00pm
Enquiry Tel: 2919-7777
Ma Tau Chung Clinic: 1/F, 105 Ma Tau Chung Road, Kowloon
Hours: Mon – Fri 11:00am – 7:00pm, Sat 9:00am – 5:00pm
Enquiry Tel: 2711-9271
Yuen Long Clinic: G/F, 149-153 On Ning Road, Yuen Long, N.T.
Mon, Tue, Thu 9:00am – 5:00pm, Wed, Fri 1:00pm – 8:00pm, Sat 9:00am – 1:00pm
Enquiry Tel: 2477-3201
Tai Wai Clinic: Shop 24-25, 2/F Sun Chui Shopping Centre, Sun Chui Estate, Tai Wai, Shatin
Mon – Fri 9:00am – 8:00pm, Sat 9:00am – 5:00pm
Enquiry Tel: 2604-2720 (note: centre closing in Dec 2017)
Tsuen Wan Clinic: Room 1621-1622, 16/F, Nan Fung Centre, 264-298 Castle Peak Road, Tsuen Wan
Mon – Fri 9:00am – 8:00pm, Sat 9:00am – 5:00pm
Enquiry Tel: 2742-8183
Wong Tai Sin Clinic: G/F, No. 1-2 Lung On House, Lower Wong Tai Sin Estate II, Kowloon
Mon, Tue, Wed 1:00pm – 8:00pm, Thu, Fri 9:00am – 5:00pm, Sat 9:00am – 1:00pm
Enquiry Tel: 2326-2447
Visit the birth control section of the FPAHK for more information.
Youth Health Care Centres
Open to unmarried people under the age of 26, with 3 locations:
Wan Chai YHCC: FPA Hong Kong Jockey Club Youth Zone, 8/F Southorn Centre, 130 Hennessy Road. Tel: 2575-4799 (by appointment only)
Mong Kok YHCC: Room A, 13/F Full Win Commercial Centre, 573 Nathan Road, Kowloon. Tel: 2770-4994 (advance appointment is preferable)
Kwai Fong YHCC: Unit 702-705, Level 7, Tower II, Metroplaza, 223 Hing Fong Road, New Territories. Tel: 2443-2773 (advance appointment is preferable)
These FPAHK clinics and YHCC will provide you with emergency contraceptives after a consultation. At FPAHK, you’ll pay around HK$300 for a consultation and a single dose of the morning-after pill. Both clinics also provide STD screening and contraceptives. If you get a prescription from your doctor, you can pick up your morning-after pill from most pharmacies, including Fanda Pharmacy in Central.
Visit the YHCC section of the FPAHK for more information.
Birth Control & Breastfeeding
To summarize the birth control options for breastfeeding women who not want another baby so soon: condoms can always be used but only certain hormonal contraceptives are suitable. An advantage of injections is that it is only needed once a quarter, versus remembering to take a daily pill. Copper and Progestin-coils can be inserted immediately after delivery and can remain for up to 10 years (depending on the brand and type), making them a very low-maintenance option. Remember to talk to your doctor if you have any questions or concerns about your birth control options.