Warning: this article is full of crudeness, bluntness, and general foul-talk. I’m not sure if everybody else also thinks like me privately and just doesn’t say it, or if I’m actually the only one… Either way, I’m putting this out there. Call it self-expression. Call it artistic license. Call it whatever you need to call it to accept it. Let’s get to the good stuff!
Sex is Awesome.
Seriously, it’s one of my favourite pastimes.
I can remember having an extremely serious debate with my mother when I was 11 about whether or not I was allowed to have a boyfriend. (She said I had to be 18, my dad said 30, I whittled them down to 15, and once I felt I had successfully won the negotiations, I celebrated by sneaking out to French kiss the boy next door.)
As Charles Dederich used to say to recovering meth heads, that was the first day of the rest of my life.
Sex is a big fascination for every teenager. I was extra fascinated.
I was all up for diving head first into a pool of willies.
But, you know.. I wanted to be at least semi-responsible since I wasn’t all that taken with the idea of becoming a teenage mother.
So I secretly went to our family doctor and asked him to put me on the pill (which was horrifically embarrassing, considering the conversation began with him asking how my grandmother was, and whether or not her laryngitis had cleared up).
Anyway, 10 awkward minutes later I triumphantly marched down to the chemist and to pick up my first ever packet of monthly contraceptive pills.
Apart from yearly check-ins with said doc, I never had to think about the pill again (except remembering to take it at 3 AM after falling head first through the door clutching the tail end of a stolen pint of beer).
That is, until I moved to China.
I ended up staying there longer than my stash of anti baby-making pills lasted. But seeing as I was still pretty keen on maintaining my winning streak of not getting my eggo preggo, I needed to work out where to buy the contraceptive pill in China.
My Search for the Contraceptive Pill in China
I did some trawling through the interwebs, online forums and the likes, to see what kind of advice I could find.
You know how people say “don’t Google your symptoms” because you’ll just end up freaking yourself out? Well here’s my advice: DON’T FUCKING GOOGLE ANYTHING ABOUT CONTRACEPTIVE PILLS IN CHINA.
I’d make a conservative stab and say 30-40% of the comments were about where to buy it. Some were about the available brands. Most of the info was pretty outdated.
The remaining 70-odd percent was a discussion about whether or not fake brands of contraceptive pills in China will make you infertile.
What. The. Fuck.
I don’t mean to sound offensive when I say this, really I don’t. I feel for the people who desperately want kids and can’t.
But for me, I had to weigh up my options. The risk of becoming infertile from a dodgy Chinese contraceptive pill was, at that moment, worth the glimmer of baby-free sexual healing that I knew was in my fanny-destiny.
So, armed with just enough confidence to feel like a trip to the pharmacy would be successful, I memorised the Chinese word for ‘contraceptive’ and trucked on down to the chemist with my best male friend in tow.
(Side note: this was not the male who would be enjoying the fruits of my pill-seeking labour, but rather the one who felt the experience of watching me try to communicate my needs to the pharmacist would be funny enough to make it worth the trip).
What Happened Next was Nothing Short of Ridiculous
The thing about Chinese… it’s a tonal language. So even if you think you’re saying the word exactly as it is, there’s a pretty high chance that the person you’re saying it to will have no fucking idea what you’re on about.
Here’s what happened.
My Chinese is ok, so I had gone in there pretty confident of what I was asking for.
I strolled up to the counter to speak with the man working, who- upon seeing a customer walking through the door- immediately began making a series of bizarre jerky movements, dropped the iPad he had been holding and stood up so fast it looked like might have given himself whiplash.
Clearly he didn’t get a lot of customers.
He raised his head to greet me, at which point my gaze was met with his one normal eye and one glass eye (I honestly didn’t even know people still made them).
I still to this day am not sure if the glass eye was lopsided, or if it was just sort of…stuck… Either way, it appeared as though he was keeping one eye on me, and the other on the iPad screen that he had roughly attempted to shove into the drawer below the counter, but was still making muffled moaning noises.
Personally, I was a lot less concerned about the fact he had so clearly been popping one out watching porn on his iPad, and more intrigued as to how he managed to get a hold of porn in a country where it’s illegal. Fascinating stuff.
Anyway, I digress.
I told him what I was looking for, and I swear to Buddha he looked at me as if I had spoken Swahili to him.
“BEEE – YOOOON- YOW!” I said to him in my best Mandarin.
Nothing. Blank stare.
It suddenly occurred to me I should have checked out how to say pregnant (as in: the thing I don’t want to be). So, I resorted to what always inevitably follows this kind of lost-in-translation interaction.
I began an absolutely ridiculous game of charades.
I’m there miming having a big pregnant belly, then following up by saying “Don’t want this! No baby!”
I should mention that by this point my friend, who had been standing in the doorway, is now doubled over laughing so hard that he appeared to be struggling to breathe.
“Ahhh! This one?”, the pharmacist said as he held up a box with a single emergency contraceptive pill inside.
“No, not that one” I replied, “I want the one that you eat every day”.
“NOOO MISS! Cannot eat this one every day! Very bad for healthy” he said.
Despite the fact that we weren’t getting anywhere fast, I was appreciative. It was at that moment that I realised this Chinese man with a glass eye- who had just moments before been having a wank- was giving me a more informative sex education lesson than any I had ever had in my years of Catholic secondary school back in Ireland.
My friend, who was in bleary eyed hysterics at this stage, managed to compose himself just enough to tell me there was another chemist down the street that we could try.
This time was a lot more successful.
I didn’t even have to do the baby bump miming thing and the pharmacist was up a ladder grabbing down a handful of boxes of contraceptive pills.
Turns out, even in smaller cities in China it’s not such a hard thing to come by. She had a mix of brands, most of which I recognised (Yasmin, Diane 35, Mercilon, and Marvelon) as well as a few questionable looking Chinese brands that I politely shoved to the side.
I stuffed a couple of boxes of Diane 35 in my bag and, tail between my legs, shuffled home, accompanied only by the weight of my own embarrassment and the sound of my friend, laughing his absolute balls off.
Moral of the Story: Finding the contraceptive pill in China isn’t so hard after all
Since this whole debacle, I’ve stayed on Diane 35 and have been able to buy it over the counter in tons of places across China, Vietnam, and Thailand. It costs considerably less than it would back in the West, and you don’t need a doctor’s prescription. All in all, the contraceptive pill is pretty easy to get a hold of in Asia.
Porn-watching pharmacists with glass eyes, however, are something of a rarity.
After fumbling my way through a year of studying abroad in China, I made the mad-hatter decision to pack up my life in Ireland and move to Asia full time. It’s been a wild ride, and I’ve even managed to pick up some cool little tricks along the way- like how to kitesurf, and speak Chinese (though not very well simultaneously). These days, you can find me beach-bumming around this part of the globe, looking for the best places to put down my bag of bikinis, my board, and my little black doggy.