Everyone should be entitled to healthcare specific to their needs. Have you recently moved to Holland and are you confused about what’s on offer here? Are you looking on behalf of your female counterparts or identify as a woman yourself? Then look no further! We’ve got loads of insights about women’s healthcare in the Netherlands right here, crammed into one tidy space.
First of all, if you’ve recently moved here for work, you should grab yourself some health insurance right away (unless you’re only here temporarily — check out our article if you’re unsure). You could also be entitled to a healthcare allowance, which is a generous benefit from the government that, depending on your situation, helps you to pay for this. Praise the lawd!!
Aside from the general healthcare that everyone gets, there’s always extra stuff to think about when you’re a lady. There’s birth control, pregnancy, finding the right gynaecologist, check-ups, sexual health, abortion clinics…and more! We have to go through a lot, so we might as well take advantage of all our available options. The second thing you should know is that for almost all of the things listed, you will have to register at a GP (General Practitioners or huisarts). The good news is that most Dutch medical workers speak English and are multilingual.
Women’s contraception in the Netherlands
What type of birth control should I get?
Contraceptives are medicines that prevent you from getting pregnant. An important note is that if you’re under 21, the Dutch government covers this for you (in the form of reimbursements), yay! To find out which birth control you should get, make an appointment with your local GP. You can discuss together which contraceptive will be the best fit for you. If you’re still not ready by the end of the session (because there are so darn many to choose from), they’ll give you a bunch of leaflets that you can take away and read. Soak up all that information, mull it over, talk to your friends and family, but make sure it’s ultimately your decision.
Pills and injections that change your body’s hard-wiring are a big deal. This is one of the few things in life that is probably worth overthinking. Then, when the GP does prescribe you with contraception, you shouldn’t feel like it’s a lifetime commitment. If after a while it doesn’t work for you or your hormones are flipped out of whack, you can always change. Don’t worry too much! Take a break if you want (but keep using condoms if you’re doin’ the dirty) or go back to the GP and try something else.
Where can I get birth control in the Netherlands?
- Once you have a prescription from the doctor, you can buy birth control pills at your local pharmacy (apotheek). Some are even open late or on the weekends. You can also get refills of birth control pills without getting a new prescription, so you don’t have to waste time booking another appointment.
- You can buy condoms (without a prescription, of course) at pharmacies, supermarkets and vending machines.
- A few examples of contraceptive pills used in the Netherlands: Neogynon, Lovette, Stediril-d, Microgynon-30, Stediril 30.
- If you want an IUD (intrauterine device, AKA the coil), Mirena and Flexi-T are the two main kinds that you can get here. This will be fitted at a GP or hospital.
- The injection (Depo-Provera, for example) is also available in the Netherlands. If you’re over 21 and want your costs reimbursed, you can get an additional health coverage package that includes the implant.
According to Gynopedia, around 40% of Dutch women aged 15-30 use the pill, and 5-10% of patients use IUDs. Diaphragms are apparently the least popular method of birth control.
Gynaecology in the Netherlands
Where can I find a gynaecologist?
A gynaecologist is a doctor who specializes in women’s reproductive health. Gynaecological care can vary hugely between countries. There are a bunch of GYN practices in the Netherlands provided by the Dutch healthcare system. Just like with prescription contraceptives, you have to speak to your GP first about the possibility of seeing a gynaecologist.
Can I ask to see a specific gynaecologist?
In the Netherlands, you don’t generally see private gynaecologists. Even if you have your own private health insurance, you must register with a GP, just like everyone else. If you really don’t like someone, there’s no shame in asking to see someone else, but there’s no guarantee. If you really do like someone, you can request to see them if they’re available. It’s worth a shot!
Women’s check-ups in the Netherlands
How do I get check-ups for my healthcare?
When you register with a GP, you can pass on all your medical records for a full assessment. Remember to tell them any important medical history, even if the problem has been ‘dealt with’, so to speak. The Dutch don’t typically buy into the whole ‘routine check-up’ thing, but women do get smear tests every five years and women over 50 get a mammogram every two years.
What if I need a test?
Emphasize your symptoms and remain super clear about what’s scramblin’ up your bod and how much pain you’re in. Your GP will then give you a referral note so you can receive special treatment. PSA: they’ll only refer you if they can’t treat the problem themselves.
Pregnancy in the Netherlands
Pregnancy is a bit different. In the Netherlands, they don’t talk about pregnancy like it’s a medical condition. We’re talking about the miracle of childbirth! Over here, it’s all about doing it au naturel (which I realise is a French expression, not Dutch, but I’m using it anyway). Many women opt to give birth at home because they feel more comfortable that way, and pain relief is often not encouraged.
How does maternity leave work?
If you’re pregnant in the Netherlands (congratulations!), you can get 16 weeks of maternity leave (zwangerschapsverlof). You’ll receive your normal amount of pay from the General Unemployment Fund. If you’d prefer, you’re also allowed to keep working part-time (which is pretty common here).
How do I prepare for childbirth in the Netherlands?
You can have regular check-ups during pregnancy (unless you don’t want to, of course). You have the choice of seeing a midwife or a gynaecologist as your primary caregiver. Remember this, though: when it comes to baby-delivering time, you might not see the same GYN as you have throughout your pregnancy.
Abortions in the Netherlands
Can I get an abortion in the Netherlands?
The short answer is, yes. Once again, go to your GP. They’ll refer you to an abortion clinic or hospital that will perform the operation. You can also contact the abortion clinic yourself if you’d rather. We are very lucky that here in the Netherlands that abortion is legal, and that all insurance companies cover abortion. You can also receive counselling.
However, we’re sorry to say that you may have to answer some uncomfortable protocol questions (like why you want to have the operation). There’s also a consideration period of five days if you are more than 16 days late. This means that, after you’ve spoken to the GP, you must consider your decision to terminate your pregnancy for at least five days. If you still want to do it, you can proceed with the treatment.
Do I have to pay for an abortion in the Netherlands?
If you live here, you do not have to pay for an abortion. Plus, full anonymity is guaranteed. To prove your eligibility, you will need to bring along your health insurance card or policy, as well as proof of identity (passport or driving licence, for instance).
The best advice we can give you on women’s healthcare in the Netherlands, ladies, is to see a GP. Check yourself regularly and get to know your body, so that you’ll immediately notice a change. And look after each other! Talk to your friends about what you’re going through. Spread the love, the peace, the happy healing vibes and all that jazz.
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Feature Image: Melissa Askew/Unsplash
Editor’s note: This article was originally published in October 2018 and was fully updated in September 2020 for your viewing pleasure.