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    Birth control
    KR2121 posted:
    I'm 17 and want to be put on birth control. i have really painful and difficult periods, really bad cramps which lead to vomiting, headaches, all the good stuff. Im having a problem with something i was told, If i want to be put on birth control a pelvic exam has to be done. is that true even if im a virgin and having one done makes me incredibly uncomfortable?
    Jane Harrison Hohner, RN, RNP responded:
    Dear KR2121: Some GYN's are willing to start a woman on birth control pills (BCPs) without doing a complete pelvic exam. You may have to phone around to find someone one who will agree to do this.

    I was not a virgin at my first pelvic exam so I cannot give you my personal experience. However, I have examined many virgins, some sexually abused women, and women with severe pain syndromes. A pelvic exam, if needed, can be done in a very careful fashion with some different techniques (eg super thin geriatric speculum, one finger bimanual exam, etc) to increase comfort. The reason for an exam is to be sure that there is no other, overt reason for symptoms (eg pelvic mass). Just be sure the GYN knows that you have never had an exam or intercourse. You can also take a support person (mom, sister, friend) into the exam room if that would make it easier for you.

    ames10928 responded:
    I am 23 years old, and still a virgin as well, and very small in that area. I have a slight fear of going to the gynecologist (not just nerves like normal people) but I went for the first time yesterday actually! It was because of a weird period, as I have been spotting/bleeding lightly since December 8th. My doctor put me on a small dosage of birth control, and says it will help regulate me in a few months.I was nervous, but bucked up the courage and finally went. I needed to anyway, as I am getting married in September. So, coming from a girl with a phobia just like yours and then some, I promise you it's not that bad! It's a little uncomfortable but it wasn't excruciating. In fact, I had the pap, the pelvic, and a breast exam. It's not a big deal for most women that have done it many times, but it was a huge step for me! Just know there's someone out there who understands. But to answer your question, you don't have to have a pelvic/pap exam to get on your first prescription of birth control. They will more than likely do a brief consultation and medical history questionnaire. However, if you like the birth control, then you will have to get the pap exam renewed each year to be able to stay on it.
    Anon_6061 replied to ames10928's response:
    ames - I'm glad the exam wasn't as bad as you anticipated. I just wanted to comment on your statement "if you like the birth control, then you will have to get the pap exam renewed each year to be able to stay on it."

    According to the National Cancer Institute, pap smears are no longer needed every year but only every 3 years. According to their fact sheet at, "previous guidelines recommended that women have their first Pap test 3 years after they start having sexual intercourse, waiting until age 21 is now recommended because adolescents have a very low risk of cervical cancer and a high likelihood that cervical cell abnormalities will go away on their own...Current guidelines recommend that women should have a Pap test every 3 years beginning at age 21. These guidelines further recommend that women ages 30 to 65 should have HPV and Pap cotesting every 5 years or a Pap test alone every 3 years. Women with certain risk factors may need to have more frequent screening or to continue screening beyond age 65.
    KR2121 replied to ames10928's response:
    thank you so much. im a little skeptical still because im very uncomfortable with the thought of letting a stranger probe down there, but you helped ease my anxiety about it. thanks
    KR2121 replied to Jane Harrison Hohner, RN, RNP's response:
    thank you for your help
    ames10928 replied to Anon_6061's response:
    Yeah I realize that after I got back from my own doctor, he said the same thing. Thanks for the info.
    ames10928 replied to KR2121's response:
    I was weird about the stranger thing at first as well, but the fact that I got to have a consultation with him first to just talk about things put me a bit more at ease. He was so down to earth and you can tell that it's just another body part to him, such as an arm or a leg. My exam was about a week and a half later. But he told me everything he was going to do before he did it, and I'm surprised at how much that helped, as I'm not a fan of uncertainty. Yes, it was a he, but you can ask for a female if that makes you more comfortable. But as for me, I get along better with guys rather than women.
    harleyquinn47 responded:
    Personally, I would suggest doing a pelvic exam. I got one done, and they found that I might have had HPV. Thankfully, I did NOT have it. But, if I hadn't had that done through a pap smear, who knows what could have happened. Even if you're a virgin, you need to remember that the person doing the exam has no personal opinion and will not do anything to make you uncomfortable. It's their job to make sure you're comfortable and healthy. Yes the first time was kind of awkward, but it's really not that bad. Just remember to breath! And whenever I get one done, they talk me through the procedure so I know exactly what's going on. It really does help. And if you do get one done, remember to spread as much as you can, and relax! It really does help. I wish you luck!

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