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Q & A with Dr. Cullins: Birth Control

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    Do I need a pelvic exam to get the pill, patch, shot, or ring?

    It all depends on your medical history. For many women, the pelvic exam will be optional. In some cases, a physical exam is needed before a prescription can be given. The health care provider will help decide what is best for each woman by discussing her medical history with her.

    Whether or not it is optional for you, we know that all sexually active women need to have periodic gynecological visits, including a Pap test. Pap tests can detect precancerous cell growth in the cervix. These early warnings save thousands of women's lives every year. They can save yours. We know that millions of women and men carry the virus that causes cervical cancer. So when it comes to preventing cervical cancer, nothing is more important than Pap tests. Your Pap test results will help your clinician decide how often you should have your periodic visits and exams.

Published: 04.04.03 | Updated: 05.14.06

This column is for informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have a medical problem, please call toll-free 1-800-230-PLAN for an appointment with the Planned Parenthood health center nearest you.