Another Birth Control Pill: Minulet

minuletToday I went to buy birth control pills (避孕药 bi4 yun4 yao4) and the pharmacist tried to sell me a different version of the pill called Minulet, 敏定偶 (min3 ding4 ou3).

I decided to buy my regular pill, Marvelon (吗富隆, ma3 fu4 long2) because it’s not a good idea to switch birth control pills just like that. But anyway I did a little research into Minulet when I got home. Like Marvelon, Minulet is mono-phasic, meaning each pill contains the same dose. This kind of pill is also called a “combination pill” because it contains a combination of estrogen and progestin. (It’s not the “minipill,” a progestin-only pill.) (Source: Go Ask Alice)

Anyway, I don’t see any reason to change what I’m taking. They look pretty comparable, but if you’re looking for an alternative to Marvelon, maybe you should try it. I did find one person in the UK that was convinced Minulet was a pretty bad pill causing dangerous blood clots and another report of someone experiencing extreme mood swings and depression, but who knows. You can compare these to the reviews of Marvelon here. For what it’s worth, I haven’t experienced any noticeable side effects with Marvelon, and I’ve been taking it since Sept. 2006.

Comparison of Birth Control Pills Available Over-the-Counter in Kunming, China

brand name Minulet Marvelon
hanzi 敏定偶 吗富隆
pinyin min3 ding4 ou3 ma3 fu4 long2
price per month ~24 rmb 16-20 rmb
pharmacies in Kunming that sell it
each active pill contains
  • 30 micrograms ethinyloestradiol
    (AKA ethinyl estradiol, ethinylestradiol)
  • 75 micrograms gestodene
  • 30 micrograms
    ethinyloestradiol
    (AKA ethinyl estradiol, ethinylestradiol)
  • 150 micrograms desogestrel
company Wyeth Organon
pill website(s)
reviews Minulet Good or Bad? Marvelon Good or Bad?
other pills with same active ingredients Femodene, Femodene ED, Femodette, Tri-Minulet, Triadene Mercilon

HEY! Before you start taking any birth control, you should consult with your doctor. Side effects can be severe and people with certain medical conditions should avoid taking the pill. And remember, the pill can prevent pregnancy, but it CANNOT PROTECT YOU AGAINST SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASES INCLUDING HIV/AIDS.

Sources:
Marvelon on MedBroadcast.com
Marvelon on netdoctor.co.uk
Minulet on Wyeth.com.cn
Minulet on netdoctor.co.uk

Previous Posts About Birth Control in China:
Birth Control in China (September 15, 2006)
Birth Control in China – Update (November 13, 2006)

If you have questions about birth control in China, feel free to contact me!

Trip to a Pharmacy in Kunming, China

Spent part of the afternoon in a pharmacy with Katherine, an American friend who is a doctor. A while ago I was talking to her about the great response to my posts about birth control (Sept. 15, 2006 and Nov. 13, 2006) and she was interested in digging a little deeper to see what’s available here.

We went to a Kunming pharmacy called 健之佳 (jiàn zhī jiā) and asked about birth control, both oral contraception and barrier methods. We also checked into treatment for yeast infections. It’s all quite available if you know what to ask for.

Vocab:
birth control – 避孕 (bì yùn, bi4 yun4)
condom – 避孕套 (bì yùn tào, bi4 yun4 tao4)
emergency contraception – 事后紧急避孕药 (shì hòu jǐn jí bì yùn yào, shi4 hou4 jin3 ji2 bi4 yun4 yao4)
lubricant – 润滑剂 (rùn huá jì, run4 hua2 ji4)
oral contraception – 避孕药 (bì yùn yào, bi4 yun4 yao4)
spermicide – 杀精剂 (shā jīng jì, sha1 jing1 ji4)

Oral Contraception, 避孕药 (bì yùn yào, bi4 yun4 yao4) – We found three types of oral contraception:

1. Marvelon, 吗富隆 (ma3 fù lóng, ma3 fu4 long2) – This is the brand name for the daily pill. An international company. It is a monophasic pill, every pill is the same: active ingredients are ethinylestradiol 30 micrograms, desogestrel 150 micrograms. You can start taking this pill the Sunday after your period starts. Take one pill every day at the same time. There are 21 pills in a pack. After you finish 21 pills, you should wait 7 days to start a new pack. You should have your period during this week. Price is 16 RMB/box (1 month). For more information (including information about what to do if you miss a pill), you can go to Marvelon’s Canadian website and you’ll need to enter 898599 as the DIN to enter the website.

2. 月悦安 (yuè re ān, yue4 re4 an1) – This brand is also an oral contraceptive. It contains levonorgestrel (6mg) and quinestrol (3mg). I was pretty mystified by the instructions for this one. It is 4 pills a month, but it’s not entirely clear to me how to take them. Try this website for instructions. It discusses the generic brand, Yue Ke Ting. Price is 12.9 RMB/box (1 month).

3. Mifolian, 弗乃尓 (fu2 nai3 ?) – This is emergency contraception, confirmed by the English on the box. The active ingredient is 25 mg of mifepristone. This is the same drug that was known as RU-486. I’m not sure about the instructions for use. Price is 15.8 RMB/box (1 pill).

You can find Durex brand condoms here. We found boxes with English. Most of the time the lubricant seems to be non-spermicidal. The only condoms I found with spermicidal lubricant were Durex brand “Performa” with 5% benzocaine. For a box of 12, the prices ranged from 37 – 49 RMB.

Jissbon, 杰士邦 (jie2 shi4 bang1) is another brand of condoms you can find here. Again, we found English on the box. All of them seemed to be non-spermicidal lubricant.

Remember if you buy lubricant that you plan to use with a condom, it must be water-based. If you use an oil-based lubricant, the condom is NOT effective — either as a birth control method or for protection against sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s).

Finally, I asked about treating yeast infections. You can buy a standard one-dose remedy over the counter. The active ingredient is 50 mg of fluconazole. Katherine recommended a single dose of 150 mg, which is three pills. The Chinese name on the box was 氟康唑 (fu2 kang1 zuo). The price was 6.8 RMB/box (6 pills, 50 mg).

Ok, more to come about bladder infections. Aren’t you excited?

If you have questions about any of this, please let me know. I can also put you in touch with my friend Katherine, an American doctor here in Kunming. I’d also be interested in hearing about any experience — bad or otherwise — with any of the products mentioned here. Please leave a comment or email me at elizabeth@elizabethinchina.com

Birth Control in China

Birth Control in ChinaI was really getting nervous about my dwindling supply of birth control pills, but this is China, right? They have the famous one-child policy, so birth control has to be available. Of course, in the US you have to have an exam with a physician before you can get a prescription for “the Pill.” However, today I learned that in China you can buy birth control pills over-the-counter at the pharmacy! Still, there’s always some fear that you’re not getting the real deal with drugs here, so it’s a little frightening.

Today I bought two months worth of birth control for the awesomely low price of 19RMB/month (~$2.50). The brand is Marvelon with 0.150 mg desogestrel and 0.021 ethinylestradiol. It’s actually different from my current prescription. I was using Ortho Tri-Cyclen®, containing varying amounts of norgestimate (0.180 mg – 0.250 mg) and ethinyl estradiol (0.025 mg). I’ve never been on this particular dosage of estrogen/progestine, so who knows what it will do to me.

Actually, I’ve been doing a lot of research online. Google pointed me to this page containing lots of nice charts and figures. I found that the brand Marvelon is equivalent to Desogen® or Ortho-Cept® in the U.S. That’s good, right? And I was relieved to find Marvelon had an English website (a Canadian one) in addition to their Chinese website. Very useful.

I’ve been far too embarrassed to ask anyone to help me with this, so I was madly searching online for some discussion about finding birth control in China. But the information for English-speaking foreigners living in China somehow doesn’t touch on the subject of oral contraceptives. Everyone’s full of advice about a lot of things, but I couldn’t find any discussion of birth control pills — where to start looking or what the process would be like. (I imagined having to go to some awful hospital for an invasive exam.) So, anyway, I feel obliged to mention my experience online.

I started out by walking into a pharmacy and showing the pharmacists the packaging from my current prescription. They were completely baffled, and I failed to look up any related vocabulary before beginning the conversation, so I left. Then I tried calling one of my teachers: “I have a very embarrassing question to ask you…” She couldn’t figure out what I meant, so finally I went home and looked up the word “birth control”: 节制生育 (jie2zhi4 sheng1yu4). I called her back, armed with this new knowledge, and she instantly understood. She gave me a different term — 避孕药 (bi4 yun4 yao4) — and sent me back to the pharmacist. Huzzah! They had both “the Pill” and emergency contraception. Wow.

I know this is kind of personal stuff to broadcast so publicly, but it’s really very important that information about birth control isn’t buried. I hope it helps somebody out.