Use of contraception
Many girls and women are still being denied the freedom to make their own reproductive choices. Unplanned pregnancies in Spain are among the highest in the EU and sex education remains a topic of institutional and social taboo.
Murcia, in the south of Spain, has the country’s lowest use of contraception (55.8%) compared to the Basque region’s high use (76.7%).
In Spain, contraception is quite easily attainable, the way to get it depends on your chosen method.
Far from needing a prescription for male condoms, these can be purchased over the counter in supermarkets and pharmacies, and even from vending machines in public bathrooms. Female condoms are not so widespread, but you can still buy them from pharmacies without a prescription. Select pharmacies are open 24/7, more information on this here.
A prescription is needed for the pill, however, it is often possible to bring your existing prescription from your home country and be allowed to purchase it then and there. When you need to resupply, simply bringing the empty box is often enough. In many cases, the first prescription you receive from your doctor in Spain can be reused for the following months.
IUDs are also available in Spain but are not covered by public health. Visit a doctor for a check-up and advice on whether it is the right form of birth control for you.
The implant is available and financed in part (60%) by public health. This should mean you will have to pay around €60 if you choose this method. It consists of a small flexible plastic rod placed under the skin in your upper arm, a procedure carried out by a doctor or nurse.
If you require emergency contraception this can also be bought at your local pharmacy for around €20 without a prescription. Note, however, that if you are under the age of 16 the pharmacist has the right to deem whether or not the buyer is mature enough to purchase. Furthermore, a legal precedent has been set in which a pharmacist has the right to refuse the sale of the morning-after pill on moral grounds.
The top 5 STDs in Spain are herpes, HPV, trichomoniasis, syphilis, and gonorrhoea. From the year 2000 to 2019, however, it is important to note that the STD with most diagnoses was HIV.
Typically, to be tested for STIs in Spain you either book an appointment with your primary care doctor (GP) and get referred to an specialist or turn up at your local sexual health centre without an appointment, however, you might be waiting for up to 2 hours (note it is not possible to prearrange an appointment). Opening hours are generally around 08:45 - 12:00, and the checkup is free, even as a foreigner (although any prescription you are given may be charged if you do not have the appropriate health cover).
Spain currently has no entry restrictions regarding carriers of HIV.
Sexual education is still taboo in Spain, as well as the public conversations about contraception and abortion. However, abortions are legal in Spain, with some restrictions.
They must be performed in a public clinic or an accredited private health centre and under-18s must provide parental consent to undergo an abortion.
They must be carried out within the first trimester (the first 14 weeks of gestation). After this period, during the second trimester (up to 22 weeks), abortions may only be carried out in cases of maternal health risk or fetal defects.
Likewise, these are the only two cases under which the costs of an abortion covered by public health.