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Unnecessary Pelvic Exams for Women Seeking Birth Control

A survey by the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology revealed that one-third of the 1,200 doctors studied required that women seeking birth control undergo a pelvic exam, regardless of guidelines by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) which do not mandate a pelvic exam for women seeking contraception. In addition, 44 percent of doctors answered that they usually required a pelvic exam before writing a birth control perscription. The practice of requiring pelvic exams creates an additional obstacle for women seeking birth control and may prevent some from obtaining effective contraception. Although the pelvic exam, which screen for ovarian cysts, cancers, and sexually transmitted infections, is an important component of women’s healthcare, there is not a medical reason for the doctors to perform the exam prior to prescribing birth control. ACOG recommends that women have pap tests beginning at age 21 and every two years there after.

Sources:

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists 11/23/10; Reuters 11/22/10

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