June 04, 2009 10:45 ET

Travel Brings Some Freedom, but Not Always Completely Care-Free

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - June 4, 2009) -

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Summer marks an important travel season. Whether you're a student, a professional or a hard-working parent, going away on vacation and getting away from it all brings a sense of freedom, but travellers should be aware that it's not all completely care-free. There is a certain amount of preparation and planning that needs to go into ensuring a safe, healthy and happy trip, such as planning in advance to get the appropriate immunizations and ensuring you have the right travel documentation. And, if you're a woman, you have some unique health and well-being concerns to consider as well.

Dr. Dominique Tessier, an expert in the area of women's health and travel offers the following tips to female travellers:

- Prepare and bring a travel medical kit - This is an important kit that women should always take with them when crossing time zones. Items like first aid supplies, insect/animal protection, heat/sun protection, water purification, medications and other toiletries are important to include.

- Research the cultural and social attitudes towards women - It's important that women understand the environment that they're traveling to. For example, some countries have certain dress codes for women that you must abide by as a visitor.

- Keep your birth control stress-free - There are newer, convenient once-a-month birth control options like the NuvaRing(R) contraceptive ring that give you peace of mind, but don't tie you to a routine of taking a pill every day and are easy to insert and remove.

- Plan ahead for your menstrual cycle - Some women opt to delay their period with medication. Dr. Tessier says that hot and humid climates can increase menstrual flow (i), so if delaying it isn't an option, women travelling to warm locations may need to bring more protection with them than they may usually need.

- If you're pregnant, consider potential risks - If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant and planning a trip, it is best to contact your clinician to discuss any potential risks a trip might pose to you or your developing fetus.

- Prepare for differing hygiene practices - Toilet paper and use of hand dryers and paper towel is different is many countries, so women must be prepared for this. Bring tissues and your own hand towels.

- Be aware - Anyone travelling to unfamiliar areas should take precautions to stay protected and ensure they are always aware of their surroundings. As a woman, this is even more important. In all situations, try to travel with companions and make sure someone always know where you are.

- Pack with strategy - In some cases, luggage gets lost en route to a destination. Don't get stuck without your essential items like your first aid kit, medications, birth control, identification, etc. In fact, surveys show that one-in-five pill users have missed pills while travelling, with four per cent saying they've been unable to take their daily pill due to lost luggage, which has put a damper on their vacation (ii). Keep all essentials in your carry-on instead, and talk to your doctor about newer, once-monthly birth control options that "go where you go," like the contraceptive ring.

Dr. Tessier says one of the most essential things for all travellers to do is talk to their doctor before they depart. Several weeks before your trip, make an appointment to see your family doctor or gynecologist for information on how to best prepare for a safe and healthy trip.

For information on hormonal alternatives in contraception and get great tips on how to discuss your options with your doctor, visit

For further information on sexual health, visit the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada's educational website,

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(i) Women's Health Matters. Travelling Tips for Women. Last accessed March 30, 2009.

(ii) Results of 'Summer Loving' survey conducted by TNS-NIPO in April 2005 on behalf of Organon. 43% of women find taking the pill a burden while on vacation. Last accessed April 21, 2009.

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