Living in Israel: My Birth Control Experience

birth control in israel

Living in Israel: My Birth Control Experience

Shockingly—and violating everything my father ever told me about socialized healthcare—I was able to get a gynecologist appointment on Tuesday, only two days after I called to schedule one. And it wasn’t even an emergency.

Since he always told me that people have to wait months for care in a socialized medicine, I figured I ought to make my appointment way in advance—you know, at least a month and a half before any medication would run out.

The facilities, however, didn’t necessarily match the quickness. The Jerusalem Medical Center, located on 9 Diskin St. in the ultra-pricey Rehavia neighborhood, was teeming with little children and senior citizens, and the furniture was all rather old and grimy. Flies seem to be regular patients at the office.

To my horror—and anyone who knows me will cringe on my behalf when reading this—the gynecology wing (that’s an exaggeration, as it was just one room really) was located right next to the head-lice treatment center.

Flies seem to be regular patients at the office.

I would for sure be scrubbing myself down to the bone as soon as get home, I thought, while sitting in the waiting room. My head was itching thinking about that haven across the corridor. Couldn’t they have placed it somewhere else? You know, at least a few miles away?

A bit like a factory, patients walked in and out of the tiny gynecology waiting room to see the one doctor there that day, the representative for Maccabi insurance holders. After waiting only about 20 minutes—that’s pretty good even compared to American standards —it was my turn. And as a pregnant haredi woman and peyot-clad husband exited with their double-decker stroller, I walked in.

I saw down with quite an intelligent American doctor, whom of course I had researched thoroughly beforehand. He got his undergraduate degree at Stony Brook University (also my parents’ undergraduate alma mater), and then had gone on to study medicine at New York University, one of the best medical school programs in the United States.

Doctors are always friendlier to me when I mention my parents’ professions. And they actually speak to me like I’m someone familiar with medicine, rather than a clueless writer.

You know, because I thought it was slightly awkward to discuss birth control pills with an Orthodox physician.

My only slight concern was the black velvet kipa and beard—albeit close shaven—that appeared in the photo alongside his online resume. You know, because I thought it was slightly awkward to discuss birth control pills with an Orthodox physician.

But then I remembered that’s exactly what he is—a physician. Though I do admit I was mildly shocked when I heard him say the word “intercourse.”

But within seconds, after I presented him with detailed drug information about my somewhat obscure American birth control, he found an Israeli counterpart with the exact same hormones.

He promised me, however, that this will have no negative effect on my system.

The only catch is that the Israeli version, called Feminet, is a monophasic regimen instead of a triphasic regimen like my old set. Unlike triphasic pills, which have different hormone levels every week to mimic a “real” menstrual cycle, the monophasic versions do not change throughout the cycle. He promised me, however, that this will have no negative effect on my system.

Actually, this is an important piece of information for female immigrants to Israel to take note of—in Israel, according to my doctor, triphasic birth control pills no longer even exist. They were phased out long ago because Israeli doctors didn’t see the need to mimic the real menstrual cycle when all cycles under birth control are actually fake anyway.

Similarly, all the packs have 21 pills, not 28, another American addition that the doctor said was not necessary to Israelis, whom he informed me are intelligent enough to know how to count 7 days between packages.

But within seconds, after I presented him with detailed drug information about my somewhat obscure American birth control, he found an Israeli counterpart with the exact same hormones.

As usual, the Israelis refuse to deal with the useless yet comforting things that we Americans so thoroughly enjoy. In fact, the doctor even recommended that I feel free to go right from one packet to another whenever I want—something American gynecologists seem to rarely recommend.

The co-pay there was NIS 7 ($2), and each pack, aside from the two free ones the doctor gave me, cost NIS 30 ($8), four times less than my prescriptions in the United States, also with insurance.

But by the way…to my disappointment and desire to prove my father’s view on socialist medicine wrong, the doctor assured me my dad was actually right. It was fluke, he said, that I had gotten that appointment in a mere two days, as only minutes before I called he had added that entire day to his schedule, to make up for the days he had lost during the September holidays.

Don’t worry though, he assured me. Normally, you’ll get to wait that month.

Living in Israel: My Birth Control Experience

Related Reading

Health, Safety and Relationships in Israel: Jenna’s Tips
Visit Jerusalem in One Day
Exploring Little Corners of Israel
Tel Aviv Travel Tips: Reagan’s Take on Health and Safety
Traveling to Israel: The Real Deal with Lisa Niver
Essential Tips for Women Traveling in Israel
The Miracles That Happened When I Traveled Israel Without A Plan
Leaving New York for Life in Israel

Have you traveled to Israel? What were your impressions? Email us at editor@pinkpangea.com for information about sharing your experience and advice with the Pink Pangea community. We can’t wait to hear from you.

To read more about Sharon’s life in Israel visit: http://sacredandinsane.com/

About Sharon Udasin

AvatarSharon Udasin is an American-Israeli journalist who has been working as the environment, energy, water, agriculture and transportation reporter for The Jerusalem Post since March 2011.

7 thoughts on “Living in Israel: My Birth Control Experience

  1. Avatar
    October 18, 2017
    Reply

    Hi Ellie,
    I’m not sure if it’s monophasic… But yes, I had health insurance, because I had made aliyah. So with aliyah automatically comes insurance, as a citizen.

  2. Avatar
    Ellie
    October 17, 2017
    Reply

    Hello, this post was very helpful to me as I just moved to Israel for the year from America and Ive been taking the type of BC that gives me a period every 3 months. I want to switch to the kind that gives a period every month like a normal cycle. Is that the monophasic kind or no? I was wondering if you already had the insurance when you made the appointment or did you find out which insurance they take, do they only take certain types of insurance? thanks so much!! -Ellie

  3. Avatar
    Naomi
    December 28, 2016
    Reply

    Thank you for your article!
    Do you need a prescription for buying the birth controll pill in Israel?

  4. Avatar
    Malcolm Potts MD, PhD
    September 1, 2016
    Reply

    You are correct triphasic pills imitate the menstrual cycle However, the natural thing to do is to imitate the hormone profile of pregnancy (without the baby) or breastfeeding (without the milk). Forget triphasic pills they have no advantage other than making money for pharma companies.

    Monophasic pills halve the rate of uterine and ovarian cancer and significantly reduce bowel and rectal cancer and make a measurable reduction in melanomas. There is no other drug that I can prescribe as a doctor that reduces cancer

  5. Avatar
    Jessica
    December 1, 2015
    Reply

    Hi Sharon,

    I am an American living in Israel for one year as a volunteer. I found your post by doing a google search on birth control in Israel. I was wondering if you had Israeli health insurance when you made the doctor’s appointment? Just not sure how things would work for me here, since I’m not a citizen.

    Thanks so much!

    • Avatar
      December 1, 2015
      Reply

      Hey Jessica, I received your email address in the comment alert for this post… So I will write to you soon.

  6. Asha
    Asha
    March 13, 2011
    Reply

    Sharon, hahaha I like this a lot. Health insurance in non-American countries is of interest to me, too. Especially because I know so many people who have poor health care in the states.

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