Do You Need a Pelvic Exam to Get Birth Control?
When you go to a free clinic to get birth control, do you have to be examined by a doctor before you can get it?
Not always. Until recently, women expected to have a pelvic exam before a doctor would prescribe any kind of birth control. Now experts agree that a physical exam is not always necessary before starting birth control.
Even though an exam is no longer required, it's a good idea in some cases. Some of the reasons why doctors or nurse practitioners do a physical exam before prescribing birth control are:
- If you have pelvic or abdominal pain.
- If you have abnormal vaginal discharge or bleeding.
- If you think you have a sexually transmitted disease (STD).
If these don't apply to you, let the clinic or doctor's office know that you don't want an exam when you make your appointment.
Although you don't need an exam to go on birth control, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that all girls start getting "well-woman visits" at the age of 21. A well-woman visit includes a breast exam, a Pap smear to screen for cervical cancer, and a general physical exam. This is also a great time to talk to your doctor or nurse practitioner about birth control, STDs, and any worries you have.
Reviewed by: Julia Brown Lancaster, RN
Date reviewed: March 2013
*Names have been changed to protect user privacy.
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