Women's Health & Contraception

Information about women's health, contraception and finding a gynaecologist in France.

Women’s Health in France: Overview

  • Contraceptives are readily available, however, only a few are reimbursed by social security. Some private insurers pay a fixed amount per year towards the cost of contraception
  • The morning-after pill is readily available without a prescription from French pharmacies
  • An abortion is legal within the first twelve weeks of pregnancy

Finding a Gynaecologist in France

You don’t need a referral to see a gynaecologist in France, you can choose any doctor that you want to follow you for your health or pregnancy. If you are looking for a doctor, word of mouth and personal recommendations are important. You can also ask your local pharmacy for recommendations.

A routine exam at the gynaecologist in France nearly always includes a Pap smear to check for abnormal cells on the cervix, there is no minimum age for this like in some countries. Doctors will also do a breast exam, and will prescribe a mammography at any age if you have any concerns or a family history of breast cancer. Women over 50 will also receive a reminder to have a mammography every two years.

Women are well-looked after during pregnancy, for information about check-ups and the costs involved with having a baby in France, see the section on Pregnancy in France.

Contraception in France

Contraception is readily available in France and can be obtained on prescription from a doctor, midwife or Family Planning Centre. A prescription is required for all forms of contraception except condoms and spermicides.

The following forms of contraception are available in France:

  • Pilule – Pill
  • Implants – Contraceptive Implant
  • Progestatifs injectables
  • Dispositif intra-utérin (stérilet) - Intrauterine Device (IUD)
  • Patch – Contraceptive patch
  • Implant – Contraceptive implant
  • Anneau vaginal – Vaginal ring
  • Diaphragme – Diaphragm
  • Cape cervicale – Cervical cap
  • Préservatif – condoms (male and female condoms are available)
  • Spermicides - Spermicides
  • Progestatifs injectables – Contraceptive injections

Contraception prescriptions

Doctors generally prescribe contraception to cover you for the next 6 or 12 months, with a renewable prescription (ordonnance). If you run short and don’t have time to visit the doctor, many pharmacies will help you out with a refill for the next month or so.

If you’ve just arrived in France and haven’t had time to go the doctor yet for a prescription, many pharmacies will agree to forward you a month’s supply of the pill, just take the box in so that they can determine the exact brand and dose you need.

Contraception costs

Only a handful of contraceptive bills are reimbursed by social security, and generally not the recent low dosage pills; expect to pay between 10 and 15 euros a month for contraceptive pills. Note that some pharmacies may have different prices for non-reimbursable pills, so it is worth shopping around. If you buy in packs of 3 rather than just a month’s supply, this will also work out cheaper.

Diaphragms, implants and IUDs are reimbursed at 65%. All other forms of contraceptive are paid for entirely by the patient.

Note that contraception given by a Centre de Planning familial for minors aged 15 to 17 is free.

Contraception for Minors (aged at least 15)

Parental consent is not required for minors aged 15 and over seeking contraception.

Abortion in France

Abortion is legal in France within the first twelve weeks of pregnancy. The French term for an abortion is avortement and the procedure is called interruption volontaire de grossesse (IVG). You can choose to see a doctor, hospital, midwife or private clinic for an abortion. Although a doctor can refuse to carry out the procedure, they must direct you to your nearest  family planning center instead.

For information about abortion and the costs involved, see the section on Abortion and Termination of Pregnancy in France.

Further Information

Hotline for questions relating to abortion, contraception and sexual health (in French)

  • Tel: 0800 08 11 11
  • Service Public has more the types of contraception available and the cost
  • On Sex Prime: Government website educating young people on the importance of sexual health