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Readers Respond: Does Your Doctor Require a Pap Smear and Pelvic Exam for Your Pill Prescription?

Responses: 26


Updated April 21, 2011

In order to buy regular birth control pills, you must have a pill prescription. Many women may want to use the pill, but don’t because they are afraid of having a pelvic exam and a pap smear. Though these are important diagnostic procedures for maintaining your gynecological health, guidelines put forth by the World Health Organization and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists suggest that birth control pills can be safely prescribed on careful review of your medical history and blood pressure measurement -- without a pelvic exam, breast exam or pap smear.

Even so, many doctors may refuse to prescribe birth control pills without a pelvic exam/pap smear. What has been your experience? Have you been able to get a pill prescription without these procedures? Did you request not to have a pelvic exam/pap smear done? Was your doctor open to the idea, or was he/she insistent on the exam? If your doctor didn’t require these exams for a pill prescription, would you still get them done? What tips do you have for other women who may want to broach this topic with their doctors?


I was prescribed BC following a miscarriage by a dr who had zero knowledge of my medical history, no pelvic exam in over 3 years, no blood work, no Pap smear in over 3 years, did not explain how to take the medication, did not tell me what the medication was, did not tell me when to begin the medication because I "may be pregnant" after 2 negative pregnancy tests... Then in public in his office yelled at me for having unprotected sex with my husband. I'm really interested in getting a second opinion... Is this typical for doctors to do?
—Guest Hey

Buying birth control pills online?

Can Canadians or Americans legaly buy birth control pills online(from other countries without prescription??

now it makes sense

ok i can see now why women have to get a prescription…if women could freely buy birth control that would put abortionists almost out of business. now it makes sense.
—Guest guest

These things are unnecessary

In the States I couldn't get the pill, it was locked away behind doctors. We buy the pill at the pharmacy and I wasn't prepared to agree to exams that might harm me and to an early pap test that would probably be a false positive. At 30 my doctor will test me for HPV and if I'm positive then I'll consider having a pap test every 5 years until the virus clears my system. If negative, I'll be offered another HPV test every 7 to 10 years. I have only had one boyfriend who was also a virgin and know I'll be HPV negative. Your doctors gave me incorrect information and then got angry when I explained how screening is approached in other countries. I don't like having a strained combative relationship with my doctor or one who tells me lies to justify risky testing and exams. Is it to make extra money? No wonder abortion and unplanned pregnancies are high in the States. Women will have poorer health because of these rules, they'll avoid doctors or end up harmed by these crazy rules.
—Guest JVD

This should be a choice

My doctor refused to give me my birth control because I refused the stupid pap test. I don't like people touching me, I have a lot of anxiety. The test it really hurts me emotionally and it's painful. The only reason I use birth control is for my acne. I really hate how doctors con people into all these unnecessary tests.
—Guest Guest


I had heavy periods from the start, so I was taken into an ob/gyn's office at age 13. It was recommended that I get on the pill to help regulate my periods. I was forced to undergo a full pelvic exam and pap smear. I had no idea what was going to happen to me. I was kicking and screaming in terror as a nurse forcibly held me down. All results were normal (I was obviously a virgin.) The pill worked wonders, so the next year I was brought into the ob/gyn's office again. The doctor insisted on another pelvic exam and pap smear, even though I was still a virgin. It was terrifying. I now know it was also unnecessary. Birth control pills, shots, and patches should be OTC to anyone who wants them.
—Guest Anonymous

It's Unethical

WHO guidelines state that BC can be prescribed safely with a blood pressure screening and health history. Doctors should not use their power to coerce women into getting unrelated cancer screenings in order to receive birth control. If BC was available without a prescription in the US like it is in many other countries we wouldn't be having discussions about who pays for what, it would be affordable and over-the-counter for all. Check the prices at Mexican pharmacies....much more affordable than buying in the US!
—Guest Anne

Im feel like crying

I have had 3 pap smears since 15, and im 23 now. Most of that was b/c I had an IUD. I have to get on the pill because it supposedly helps with Ovarian Cysts, yet they wont give me a script unless I get a pap. I feel sexually assaulted every time, I bleed for 6 weeks like a full on period (even when I was pregnant) yet they still try to coerce me into getting one done. This IS wrong. I dont know my rights. I came here looking to see if someone else knew and obviously not, as the experiences that say to know your rights do not actually include my rights. I need a concrete thing to go in there with to refuse them again.
—Guest ImGonnaCry

This is complete BS

I REFUSE to go on the birth control pill because it is so often used as a method of coercion into exams that SHOULD legally fall under the category of sexual assault in the even that they are unwanted. It's time to take a stand against this SEXIST ABUSE. What the world really needs is for a TON of women to go on "strike" from taking the pill, but this seems to be too much of a risk for so many people to take. I plan to conduct an experiment by going into several different health clinics and trying to get them to prescribe the pill without any unnecessary exams and see what happens.
—Guest Angry As F***

BE Informed

I recently wanted to restart my bc. I was told by my doc that I needed a pelvic and pap smear before she could write me a prescription. I asked her to explain the reason for linking these two and she got defensive, citing the ACOG guidelines.......except for she was wrong. If you go to ACOG or any reproductive health organizations website they clearly state in their guidelines that no exam or test is necessary to inititate or continue birth control. This is per ACOG, the World Health Organization and Planned Parenthood. Women be informed! When I cited this info, although with hesitation I got my bc prescription filled for a year. Don't be bullied!
—Guest Alicia


my doctor refused to renew my birthcontrol under the pretense that i had to undergo a mandatory pap smear. she then told me that i wouldnt be able to recieve the exams for 6 weeks because that was to soonest opening. when i asked her to prescribe me the pills in the meantime since i had to WAIT. she refused. as a result of this i had an unwanted pregnancy and had to go through the horrible experience of having an abortion. what my doctor did was absolutely WRONG. I feel cheated that she look advantage of my age (18 at the time) and bullied me the way she did.
—Guest Amber (Ca)

Insurance woes

I have an adult daughter with autism who is on birth control pills for two reasons: PMS and for protection against pregnancy in case of sexual assault. She's eligible for Medicare, which pays for a Pap and Pelvic every two years. What are we supposed to do in the off year? It's annoying to call around and try to get this billing handled. She's not sexually active so why does she need the exam every blasted year?
—Guest Annoyed Mother


I recently made a doc appointment to get birth control pills. I was told at the appointment that either I get a full pelvic, hpv and pap or no prescription. I tried to explain my reasoning including many points that you all make and the answer was no. I was told "as your healthcare provider it is my job to take care of you and give you preventative care" what a bunch of bull. She kept pushing and I thought if I got naked and let her do everything to my body just for some pills I couldn't go through with it without crying and feeling like I was being molested. I left the office. As a grown married woman with 2 children I felt belittled and treated like an idiot. These tests have nothing to do with a womans desire to prevent further pregnancies. I find these forums where many woman feel the same but what can we actively DO about it to change this and bring awerness and change.
—Guest Princess

Learn and then make your deision!

Hi, I work for many years training doctors and yes they are trained in school to push pills and tests to you all and that is because the Pharmaceutical companies fund their colleges! For a few years I did this test because I thought it was necessary in order to get the birth control pills. It is not! Prior to moving to US I lived in Europe and I never had to be pushed to do any of this. What I find it unbelievably is that if you do refuse to do this test you are looked at with a dirty look. That was what one doctor did to me once! I was speechless! Plus she was trying to push some other tests! I just walked out! She was treating me like I was a 5 year old and with most disrespect like I as stupid! literally! (at PP by the way). Please, I urge you to learn and make an informed decision before you let anyone touch you! Its your body! Your life! This manipulation has to stop!
—Guest Rachel

Not Right

I had my first pap smear at 21. I was a virgin and needed to get on birth control pills to regulate my period. The Doctor told me it was unhealthy to have irregular periods but then required me to have a pap smear in order to get birth control to regulate it. Since then, I have been with the same partner for the past two years and another pap smear which was normal. Today, I tried to get birth control pills without the pap smear and the nurses treated me like I was stupid or something. They refused to give me birth control without an exam. Then they tried to reschedule me for another day with a pap smear when I told them multiple times that I did not want one. I don't see how a pap smear can relate to getting birth control pills and in addition, it's supposedly for my health. I know why pap smears are important, but once every year! Lets not forget to mention the cost, the pain, and the humiliation. It's not right!
—Guest Sarah
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