From contraception to maternity care and mental health to menopause, we explain all you need to know about women’s healthcare in Austria.
Newly arrived women in Austria might have a lengthy to-do list upon arrival, including setting up home utilities, opening a bank account, and enrolling their children in school. But thankfully, women’s healthcare in Austria is one area that almost takes care of itself.
To help you navigate the system, this helpful guide reviews the basics, from sorting insurance to accessing contraception to exploring fertility treatment options and more. It includes the following information:
- Women’s health in Austria
- Accessing women’s healthcare services in Austria
- Insurance for women’s healthcare in Austria
- Gynecologists in Austria
- Women’s contraception in Austria
- Maternity care services in Austria
- Breastfeeding in Austria
- Fertility treatments in Austria
- Abortion in Austria
- Menopause in Austria
- Cancer screenings in Austria
- Sexual health in Austria
- Availability and costs of feminine hygiene products
- Women’s mental health services in Austria
- Services dealing with abuse and violence against women in Austria
COVID-19 in Austria
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a difficult time for everyone. Many expats find themselves separated from family and loved ones in their home countries. As a foreigner, it is also sometimes difficult to find critical information regarding coronavirus infection rates, local measures, and restrictions, and now, thankfully, vaccinations.
For general coronavirus health information in Austria, including vaccination schedules and the latest government restrictions, consult our guide to the COVID-19 pandemic in Austria.
Women’s health in Austria
Women’s healthcare in Austria is generally very good. Female life expectancy is 84 years old and Austrian women experience around 66 years of (self-perceived) good health.
Because health insurance is compulsory and includes women’s healthcare services, access to quality care is widespread.
Accessing women’s healthcare services in Austria
Fortunately, gaining access to women’s healthcare in Austria is straightforward. Once you have health insurance, you can choose your own doctor, or ask around for a referral, provided that they accept your insurance carrier. Because the system caters to public and private insurance users, you will find accessing women’s healthcare to be an efficient process. Read more about the healthcare system in Austria.
Insurance for women’s healthcare in Austria
Austria’s healthcare system relies on mandatory health insurance. As an expat, this will likely mean that your public health insurance is filtered through your employer. Once enrolled, women’s healthcare in Austria is available either through your General Practitioner or directly through a gynecologist or obstetrician.
The system runs smoothly and less than 1% of women report unmet medical or dental examination needs. So, if you are a woman planning to move to Austria, you will be in safe hands.
That said, you may be tempted to buy private health insurance, which will enable you to benefit from shorter waiting times and a higher standard of wards in hospitals. There are many private health insurance providers in Austria, all of which regulated by the Financial Market Authority.
The leading groups are Allianz Care and Cigna Global. Both offer a range of plans to suit all people and situations. Generally, the older you are the more you will pay. For example, a plan for children below 18 could cost around €30 per month. However, the same plan for someone above 65 may cost as much as €450 to €500 per month. Additional factors include both gender and pre-existing conditions.
European Health Insurance Card
If you are a citizen of the EU visiting or living in Austria, you have access to the local public health insurance system. This is through your European Health Insurance Card. The card covers any women’s health needs you may have and entitles you to any fee discounts that an Austria would have.
Fortunately, Austria is recognized around the globe for its highly skilled doctors, most of whom are proficient in English. However, you can search specifically for an English-speaking (or another foreign language) doctor at Praxisplan. This site also filters doctors by specialties and all-round services. In addition, the U.S. Embassy in Austria provides a list of English speaking doctors in Vienna.
Gynecologists in Austria
Luckily for female expats, general health insurance covers gynecological services, so whether you need an annual exam or something more specialized, your gynecological needs should be met. You can choose your own gynecologist – just be sure that they accept your insurance. Once you have found someone you like, you will need to register with that office so that your services and insurance processing go through it.
Be aware that the specifics of the office – whether they accept drop-in appointments or make house calls – will vary. Therefore, it’s important to consider what kind of gynecologist you would prefer before beginning your search.
Women’s contraception in Austria
Birth control options
Birth control is common throughout Austria. Popular methods include birth control pills, shots, patches, Intrauterine Devices (IUDs), and male condoms. Condoms are widely available at pharmacies and grocery stores, but other methods, such as birth control pills, do require a doctor’s prescription.
Contraception costs vary but usually range from around €20 to €30 for birth control pills and €200 to €500 for devices and implants. Be sure to speak with your doctor about the best option for you.
The morning after pill
Emergency contraception, which is taken after unprotected or suspected unprotected sex, is widely available in Austria. You don’t need a doctor’s prescription and can find it at most pharmacies, however, it may be stored behind the pharmacist counter, instead of on the shelves. Unfortunately, insurance will not reimburse the cost, so you will need to pay for it out-of-pocket. That said, the cost shouldn’t exceed €35.
Maternity care services in Austria
Austria is a comfortable place to experience pregnancy, partly because maternity care services are efficient and thorough. Once you know you are pregnant, you will want to begin seeing a gynecologist or an obstetrician right away. However, legally, you must go before the 14th week of pregnancy to be eligible for all the benefits offered by your health insurance for the duration of your pregnancy.
You will receive a Mutter-Kind-Pass, also known as ‘MuKi’ pass, to track all the procedures and vaccines that your child will need until they are five years old. Your doctor will also provide the necessary documentation to get you your 16 weeks of maternity leave. As your due date nears, you will also have access to a midwife who will help soothe your fears and help bring your birth plan to life – no pun intended.
Breastfeeding in Austria
Breastfeeding is a personal choice and one that varies by mother and by circumstance. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends breastfeeding for the first six months up to two years. In Austria, many women breastfeed, however by the sixth month, the rate of exclusive breastfeeding is only 10%.
Most hospitals and midwives offer lactation services before and after birth, for those interested in short or long-term breastfeeding. If you are looking for breastfeeding support, visit the Vienna Family Network. You can also read our article about views on breastfeeding around the world.
Fertility treatments in Austria
Expats seeking fertility treatment will be pleased to know that the Austrian system is fairly generous. Provided that you have Austrian insurance and meet a few other requirements, you can access the IVF Fonds. These funds will pay for up to 70% of the cost of In-Vitro Fertilization if you have public insurance. If you have private insurance, the amount covered will depend on your insurance provider and policy. While you are researching, keep in mind that the German word for ‘fertility clinic’ is ‘Kinderwunschklinik’. The best place to start your journey is with your gynecologist, who can recommend the next steps.
Abortion in Austria
Abortion laws in Austria
Since 1975, abortion has been legal in Austria and a part of the healthcare provision for women in the country. The procedure can be performed before the 16th week of pregnancy, after consulting a doctor and getting your bloodwork done. You don’t need to provide any justification or get any counseling beforehand. After this period, abortion is only allowed under certain circumstances; for instance, where it is necessary to avert a serious danger to the life or to the physician or mental health of the pregnant woman.
Getting an abortion in Austria
Unlike many Western European countries, public insurance doesn’t cover abortion, unless there is a medical reason for it; otherwise, the payment will have to be covered out-of-pocket. Interestingly, because it doesn’t go through insurance, getting an abortion is accessible to anyone who can afford it, regardless of insurance, immigration, or another status. You don’t need to have an existing relationship with a provider and can go to a private clinic or hospital that offers the procedure. Costs usually run between €500 and €600.
Menopause in Austria
Menopause is different for every woman and any treatments must reflect that. Therefore, if you are beginning to experience symptoms of menopause, your gynecologist is the best place to start. They can advise you on what is normal or abnormal, what treatments are available, and help you sort through your options.
Your insurance will likely cover your visits to the doctor, but any alternative methods, such as homeopathy, may or may not be fully covered, depending on your insurance. With this in mind, be sure to check your specific entitlements with your insurance company.
Cancer screenings in Austria
Cancer screenings are an important part of women’s healthcare in Austria. Each year, around 40,000 people are diagnosed with cancer in the country. For women, the most common form is breast cancer which, when caught early, is often not life-threatening. Because of this, cancer screenings are a priority for the Austrian government.
How to get screened for cervical cancer
Getting a Pap smear, which screens for cervical cancer, is fairly straightforward in Austria. Your gynecologist will perform the screening in their office and this routine screening is covered by your health insurance as part of your preventative care. You should check with your doctor to see how often you should get screened; this will change depending on your age and health history.
How to get screened for breast cancer
Screening for breast cancer will also go through your gynecologist who will advise you on the ideal frequency of screening for your demographic. Screenings may take the form of a clinical breast exam, a mammogram, or, in certain circumstances, even an MRI. These procedures, when medically advised, are covered by insurance. In 2014, the Austrian government launched a breast cancer screening program targeted at women between 45 and 69 years of age to help with early detection.
How to get screened for ovarian cancer
Unfortunately, the symptoms of ovarian cancer can be hard to detect. That is why it is important to have honest and regular communication with your gynecologist. With this in mind, if you notice any strange changes in your body, they will be able to advise you. Insurance will cover the costs of detection and treatment. If you have a family history of ovarian cancer or are just concerned, be sure to speak with your doctor.
Sexual health in Austria
Good sexual health and practices are widely promoted throughout Austria, with a particular focus on vulnerable populations such as young people, migrants, and people with disabilities. Testing for Sexually Transmitted Infections can be done with your general practitioner or at clinics and labs throughout the country. You may need a referral letter from your doctor to access the latter, though. Insurance will cover the cost of testing if you have symptoms or suspect an infection based on your sexual behavior.
Availability and costs of feminine hygiene products
Feminine hygiene products can be easily found at pharmacies, grocery stores, and specialty stores throughout Austria. These include sanitary pads, tampons, menstrual cups, period underwear, and more. Generally speaking, costs can range from €3 to €40, depending on the product. Unfortunately, feminine hygiene products are not tax-free in Austria.
Women’s mental health services in Austria
Mental health provisions in Austria usually go through medical and psychotherapy providers.
If you are looking for woman-centered support, such as postpartum or menopausal help, your best bet is to seek out referrals from your doctor or gynecologist. Also, be sure to tap into your expat networks as they are usually very helpful when it comes to recommendations.
Services dealing with eating disorders in Austria
If you or someone who love is struggling with an eating disorder and are ready to get help, it’s best to start with your doctor. They can recommend treatment options based on your specific situation. And, if you are looking for support groups in your area, you can visit this helpful website. You might also find useful information on the Eating Disorder Network.
Services dealing with abuse and violence against women in Austria
Unfortunately, domestic violence and partner abuse can happen anywhere in the world. If you find yourself a victim and feel comfortable contacting the police, you can do so at 133 or 112. You can also call the free, 24-hour Women’s Helpline at 0800/222 555. The police have the authority to evict the endangering party from the shared house (even if they are the owner) for a minimum of two weeks, a timeframe that can be extended. Once you are safe, you can then proceed within the courts, if you choose to. For more information on your rights and procedures, as well as counseling centers and shelters, you can visit this helpful website. You can also explore the following resources:
- Women’s Shelters Vienna – provides support for victims of domestic violence including women’s refuges and a 24-hour emergency line
- Domestic Abuse Intervention Center, Vienna – provides the contact details of the nine Austrian Domestic Intervention Centres located around the country
- Association of Autonomous Austrian Women’s Shelters – a network of 15 autonomous women’s shelters in Austria