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tedd's avatar

Ladies: Did you have to see a gyno to get birth control pills?

Asked by tedd (14073points) February 8th, 2012

Talking with my g/f last night we got on the topic of her birth control (see my other post so far today). She told me that she had to see a gyno to get her birth control prescription, and that she was pretty sure that was the standard (as in she couldn’t just go to a regular doctor and avoid the awkward/painful stuff with the gyno). But I’m almost positive that my X g/f just went to a typical doctor, and didn’t have a gyno appointment prior to receiving the pill.

What’s your experience with this?

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24 Answers

AshlynM's avatar

The first time I went on birth control I went to a gyno and went through the whole exam.

JLeslie's avatar

Nope. I was seeing an adolescent doctor at the time. The rule then was you had to have a pap smear to be prescribed the pill, and then every six months to get a renewal of pills. Not sure if the rule has changed for the frequency.

Many different doctors can do a standard GYN exam.

SuperMouse's avatar

I got my very first prescription from Planned Parenthood, from there on out I saw an OB/Gyn to get birth control pills. I am fairly certain that a GP can also provide a prescription. It is important though for any woman who is sexually active to go through all the “awkward painful stuff with the gyno” whether done by a OB or a GP. An annual pap smear and pelvic are very important for sexually active women.

marinelife's avatar

You need to see a gynecologist. Because when you get your pills, you need an examination to make sure you have no unusual things (cysts, etc.) and that everything looks OK.

chyna's avatar

A primary care physician can do a gyno exam and it would be much less expensive than seeing a gynocologist. Where I live, it takes months to get into a gyno and if you cancel your appointment, it takes even more time to get an appointment. A regular physician can also prescribe birth control pills.
If your girlfriend doesn’t have insurance, I would do what @SuperMouse did (and also what I did when I was in my early 20’s without insurance) and go to your Planned Parenthood clinic.

nikipedia's avatar

As the other posters have said, most doctors will require a basic exam (pap and pelvic). This doesn’t absolutely have to be done by a gynecologist, but I don’t see any reason not to go to a vagina doctor for a vagina checkup.

My clinic requires me to get an exam annually if I want to keep my prescription.

JLeslie's avatar

To clarify, I believe it is “regulation” for an exam to be done to receive the BC pill, not the doctor’s personal policy. Just like women must sign a waiver of understanding when they take acutane that it causes birth defects.

OpryLeigh's avatar

I didn’t have to see a gyno when I started birth control. In fact, I didn’t get examined by a gyno until about 5 years after I had started taken the pill.

dappled_leaves's avatar

You can get the prescription from various sources – but she should go wherever she is most comfortable, or to the doctor she trusts the most, especially if it’s her first prescription, or if she’s considering changing which pill she takes.

PS – good job on the topics. :)

Aethelflaed's avatar

My GP does pelvic exams, so I go to her for my regular pap & pelvic, and she prescribes my pills. But there’s no way to avoid the awkward painful stuff, you just get to choose whether it’s a gyno or your regular doctor who does it.

JLeslie's avatar

My statement was regarding US regulations on prescribing. I’m sure it varies by country. I should have thought to state it before, but did not think of it until I saw @Leanne1986 answer.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@JLeslie From a quick internet search, it doesn’t look like that is required anymore. I’m kind of surprised that such a thing would have been organized at the federal level – that’s interesting.

This is from an American Planned Parenthood site:

“How Do I Get Birth Control Pills? How Much Do Birth Control Pills Cost?

First, you’ll need to get a prescription. Visit a Planned Parenthood health center, a clinic, or a private health care provider for a prescription. Your health care provider will discuss your medical history with you, check your blood pressure, and give you any other medical exam that you may need. If you need an exam, it may cost about $35–$250.

Birth control pills may be purchased with a prescription at a drugstore or clinic. They cost about $15–$50 a month.

Planned Parenthood works to make health care accessible and affordable. Some health centers are able to charge according to income. Most accept health insurance. If you qualify, Medicaid or other state programs may lower your health care costs.

Call your local Planned Parenthood health center to get specific information on costs.”

dappled_leaves's avatar

It looks like the exam requirement might be up to each individual doctor. That makes more sense to me.

nromstadt's avatar

I knew a lot of girls in high school that were on the pill – many of which were not sexually active, but took it for other reasons – and they were not required to have gyno exams. When I started on BC, because I had not been sexually active at that point, they did not require an exam.. This was at my university’s student health center – so I’m pretty sure this is a standard practice for them. When I get a new Rx, though, I do have to have an exam.

JLeslie's avatar

@dappled_leaves That link is very interesting. I think we should send the question to magsrags, she would be well informed on the question at hand.

I know there has been a change in PAP smears in general, the frequency needed has come into question over the years. I first went on BC pills back in 1984 more or less, and I was on them to prevent pregnancy, not for other reasonas, it would not surprise me if things have changed over the last 25 years.

JLeslie's avatar

If I were a doctor I think I would require my patients to have a pelvic once a year to get pills, especially ladies between 18 and 25 years old, unless they literally still had their hymen. Of course women can lose their hymen and be virgins, but all I am saying is I would not have a women with a hymen endure a pelvic exam, that seems unnecessary and not the doctors place to break her hymen, unless of course the patient prefers it. I would think women with other medical reasons outside of birth control wind up having to get a pelvic or ultrasound anyway.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@JLeslie I agree that the exams are important, but I don’t see that they’re related to getting the pill. Nor would I expect them to be needed on the same schedule as a pill prescription (and the frequencies of pelvic exams should probably change with age, while obviously the frequency of a prescription wouldn’t). I’m glad they’re not required here – I’d rather make those decisions for myself.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@JLeslie @dappled_leaves Eh, I kinda think she downplays some risk factors, and plays up the Evil Patriarchy thing to unrealistic levels. The Pill doesn’t have anything to do with STDS, that’s true, but HPV is a real problem that almost all women get at some point in their life, and a simple pap smear (which really isn’t that much more invasive or invasive than a cheek swab) helps a lot. Plus… she really gets into this idea of, if you’re practicing safe sex (that won’t protect against HPV), or in a monogamous relationship (because no one ever cheaps, especially not your sweetums), that doesn’t really pan out entirely in reality. I know a lot of women, of a wide range of ages, who wished they hadn’t been so sure they couldn’t get anything. So, I get the idea that it’s not necessary, but the part where it’s all evil doctors conspiring to force harmful measures on you really rubs me the wrong way.

JLeslie's avatar

I would not trust a teenager generally to tell the truth about whether they are having sex. Having a rule means girls can lie to their parents, lie to their doctors if they are afraid a parent will see the record, and still get the annual check up that will protect them. I don’t trust most people to use condoms to protect themselves from STD’s, and HPV is an STD. I think once girls/women are on the birth control pill generally they simply don’t use condoms, and so are exposed. STD’s happen way more often than most people think, and can leave girls infertile, or as we know with cancer.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@Aethelflaed Ok, but then require that boys go in for STD tests on the same schedule – not so reasonable to demand, is it?

(Again, I’m not saying people shouldn’t get a pelvic exam. The exams are good. I’m just saying it should not be required in order to get birth control pills)

JLeslie's avatar

@dappled_leaves Boys aren’t tested for HPV. They can be tested for some of the other STD’s, which is a great idea, especially Chlamydia in my opinion since they can be asymptomatic, but how are you going to get the kid into the doctors office?

dappled_leaves's avatar

@JLeslie Exactly. The pill prescription is being used as a way to get women on the exam table – in a way that can’t be duplicated for men. I’m saying that I don’t think that’s appropriate.

JLeslie's avatar

@dappled_leaves Yeah, but, unfortunetely the women are more likely to have more serious health consequences so they need to be checked more than men do. It’s not fair, but it is how it is. I believe the STD’s impact a man’s health also. Personally I think a lot of prostate problems probably stem from STD’s having been untreated or medical science still not knowing everything about various bacterial infection not yet designated as STD’s. HPV causes tongue, throat, anal, and other cancers, not just cervical, which are seen in both men and women. I am still infuriated GYN’s don’t do anal and mouth PAP’s, especially once a woman has been positive on her cervix and needed tissue removed.

MollyMcGuire's avatar

It’s not so much as if you have to go to a GYN as it is that you should. If you are taking female hormones it is prudent to stay under the care of a female specialist. If you are old enough to be having sex you should already know why.

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