Birth Control and Pap Smears: Why Do They Go Together?

It is not medically necessary to have a pap and pelvic exam to get a prescription for birth control. The only medically necessary procedure is a blood pressure test. Yet in the US, women are routinely forced to endure a yearly pap and pelvic exam in order to renew the prescription. A recent study shows that 33% of doctors always require the exam and 44% regularly require the exam (from Time article).

In my personal experience, I was literally shouted at over the phone by a nurse practitioner when I requested a month extension on my prescription because I had to change my exam appointment. The woman told me that I had already waited too long to see the doctor and absolutely refused to provide the one month extension (it has been about fourteen months since my previous exam, completely within medical guidelines for the pill). When I shared my experience with the doctor, she sounded surprised and said I should have been given the prescription, but she was not overly concerned about the incident and had no interest in further investigation or remedy.

The proponents of requiring pap and pelvic exams for birth control prescriptions argue that while it may not be medically necessary, these exams are important and women should have them done.  In essence, requiring women to have a pap and pelvic exam in order to get a birth control requires testing that should be optional– it is a way to force women to have exams that they otherwise might elect to forgo.

Birth control guidelines in the UK are drastically different in recommendations on when and how often to have pap and pelvic exams–it is not recommended as a yearly exam or connected with birth control refill subscriptions at all.  For women who are in monogamous  relationships (and therefore have no concerns about STDs) and are not trying to get pregnant, exams in Europe are generally recommended every three to five years.

Papanicolaou (pap) smears test for cervical cancer, but the risk is very low (1% +/-) and the rate of false positives is very common (65-95% depending on the frequency a woman is tested).  The rate of false positives being so high leads to higher frequency of testing and numerous follow-up procedures, including colposcopies and biopsies–expensive, time consuming tests that are unpleasant or painful and create anxiety about possible findings.  Cervical cancer is caused by the HPV virus (human papillomavirus) and can be prevented by means other than pap smears; getting the vaccine, safe sex practices, regular STD screening for those at risk and eliminating smoking. For a woman who is not at risk for STDs, got the vaccine and doesn’t smoke, it is overkill and down right absurd to require a yearly pap smear. There is a very interesting article, “Should We Abandon Pap Smear Testing”, which explores the idea of eliminating the pap smear test all together due to the of the rate of false positives and the potential for law suits.

There is also a disconnect between the women who have pap and pelvic exams regularly and the women who are at high risk and who need the exams but rarely, if ever, get them.  This goes to a break down in our health care system that allows for people who can afford medical care unnecessary testing and the people who actually need the screening but cannot afford it, to go by the way side.  In our failing and bankrupt system, it seems logical to encourage necessary medical screening and treatment while ceasing medically unnecessary practices, like linking birth control to pap and pelvic exams.

There are two perfidious underlying assumptions in requiring pap and pelvic exams in exchange for birth control. One is that women cannot be trusted to have exams that are important for their health unless they are forced to do so (of course this only applies to women who can afford the treatment).  The other is the negative stigma associated with birth control–women should not need birth control because they should only be sexually active within marriage and if married they should want children. This very archaic view of women and sex is still very prominent in contemporary society, not necessarily loudly touted, but rather communicated in traditional practices like requiring pap and pelvic exams in exchange for birth control–which deters and eliminates women from having access and using birth control.

All forms of birth control need to be made more readily available. This extends to stores that put condoms behind a counter that must be specifically requested to pharmacists who take it upon themselves to cast a moral judgment upon a person’s request for Plan B or other drugs that may or may not be used after an abortion, to the accessibility of birth control, either through prescriptions or availability over the counter. Women should not be coerced into medical screenings to receive unrelated prescriptions.

About Kimberly:
Kimberly is a law student at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. When not studying or writing, she can be found devouring video games and books. She is commonly caught muttering under her breath a critique of the consumeristic mechanism that constantly insists on bombarding her personal space.

Comments

  1. Unbelievable! I’m too absent-minded not to appreciate the odd reminder card, but to hold your birth control hostage is just ridiculous. I feel like I say this over and over again but I can’t help thinking this would stop in about a second if it there were some comparative practice for men. No Viagra till you get your prostate exam? And oh, you can’t get that here, but I’ll give you the referral for where you can. Oh, no, and then you’d have to come back for another appointment before I could write you the script.

    I think there’d be fisticuffs! :)

  2. Jodi–your point is so poignant!! No Viagra until your prostate exam? Ha! That would never happen. But oh, those women, they just can’t be trusted to take care of themselves, so we’ll have to have the doctors and the government do it for them! (randomly and completely unplanned, when I heard that in my head, it came with a Sarah Palin accent (!) )

  3. Elizabeth (Aust) says:

    Great piece of writing! Delighted to see more women questioning the need, value, risks and actual benefits of this testing. (and your well-woman exams, which should be called sick-woman exams!)
    The situation in the States is abusive and a gross violation of your civil rights and the Patient Bill of Rights.
    The well-woman exam is not evidence based and is not recommended at all for symptom-free women of any age by our doctors or English doctors. I’m early 50′s and have never had a genital inspection, bimanual pelvic exam, recto-vaginal exam, rectal exam or breast exam. The clinical evidence is clear – they are of low to poor value without symptoms and risk your health with false positives and more harmful investigation and even surgery.
    Pap tests are a voluntary cancer screening test with risks and benefits that legally and ethically require your informed consent. Yearly pap tests are not recommended as they expose you to very high false positives rates, harmful over-treatment and excessive biopsies. Few women benefit from smears – in Australia, 0.45% benefit, 0.20% get false negatives and may be disadvantaged by the test after false reassurance and the rest don’t benefit at all BUT, a whopping 77% are referred at some stage for colposcopy and usually some sort of biopsy. We also over-screen which increases the risks BUT, the States is No 1 in excessive testing – 95% of you will be referred, to help 0.65% of women.
    As a low risk woman, I have always declined pap tests and recently declined mammograms as well – far too much risk from false positives and over-diagnosis.
    In the 70′s and 80′s pelvic exams and pap tests were also linked to the Pill in Australia, but this paternalistic and unethical practice was changed a long time ago. It’s shocking your doctors are still using coercion to force unnecessary, harmful and/or optional and often excessive testing and exams.
    Women under 30 don’t benefit from smears, but produce very high false positive rates – 1 in 3 – the pap picking up harmless and transient HPV infections or picking up normal changes in the maturing cervix.
    This cancer is rare in all age groups and very rare before 30…
    American women should refuse these exams and demand their birth control – this is not about health but I fear an unethical way of controlling a long term income generating commodity – many of your women will be harmed by these exams and testing and also, an unplanned pregnancy, abortion, ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage carry far more risk to your health and lives than skipping an unreliable test for a rare cancer.
    Women who want pap tests should look at the Finnish program – just 5 to 7 tests in total over your lifetime – 5 yearly from age 30 – they have the lowest rates of cervical cancer in the world and just as importantly, send the fewest women for distressing and harmful colposcopy/biopsies.
    Dr Joel Sherman’s medical privacy forum under women’s privacy issues contains all of my references – take a look at research by Angela Raffle, UK screening expert and Professor Michael Baum, UK breast cancer surgeon. Also, essay by Heather Dixon on the Pelvic Exam requirement for birth control.
    Dr Sherman also wrote, “Informed consent is missing from cervical screening”.
    I’d urge every woman to do her reading, examine your risk profile and make informed decisions – the greatest risk to your health is simply to allow unnecessary and/or excessive exams and testing.

  4. This is the very reason I buy my birth control online from a drugstore in Mexico–I’m not going to be forced into a medical exam I don’t want. It’s my body. If I end up getting cervical cancer, I’ll deal with it. Either way, one should have nothing to do with the other.

  5. Nice post!

  6. Unbelievable! Is this a scam by medical practitioners to get the pap test fees?

  7. This is fascinating–never thought about it. I felt guilty for not having a pap smear for so many years and finally scheduled one at my local women’s health clinic. It was a terrible experience–I was made to wait three hours despite having an appointment and I didn’t like the way I was treated at all. I’m 34 and have been in a monogamous relationship for 11 years. Anyway, thought provoking. Thanks.

    • Hi Laura-Marie. Glad you found the piece thought provoking. I think a lot of women have had negative experiences getting a pap, which does a lot to explain our reticence to make an appointment. I’m all for preventative screening, but I think that getting a pap shouldn’t be such an awkward and intimidating process – much less mandatory for getting birth control.

  8. Elizabeth (Aust) says:

    Can I just give you all another reference?
    “No country in the world has reported a decline in the incidence of or the mortality from cervical cancer in women under 30, irrespective of cervical screening.Many countries do not perform cervical screening on women under 30″ – taken from “Cervical cancer screening” pullout feature for doctors in “Australian Doctor” 2006 by Assoc Prof Margaret Davy, Director, Gyn-oncology, Royal Adelaide Hospital and Dr Shorne, GP. (an online download)
    Take a read…also at the end you’ll see an almost admission that some women will continue to be tested even though they won’t benefit (and this exposes them to risk) – doctors make assumptions about us and our partners that they are not entitled to make – they are not our guardians. (will her level of risk change? ie. will her partner remain faithful?) Women should be given the FACTS and permitted to make their own informed decisions about screening. The current attitudes are paternalistic, disrespectful and totally unacceptable.
    Also, this is a population screening test and the individual is of no concern – this means all women in the target age range (and some doctors will test any woman or teenager) will be caught up in testing and possibly harmful over-treatment regardless of their level of risk – only one person cares about your health – YOU!
    This is about reducing an already very small death rate with cavalier disregard for the thousands of previously healthy women harmed and distressed along the way. This amount of over-detection to prevent a rare cancer would never be approved today – it is unethical to send 77% of Australian women or 95% of American women for colposcopy/biopsies to help 0.45% and 0.65% of women respectively and all with no informed consent and in many cases, no consent at all. (when coercion is used – the test is “required” for something)
    Remember cancer screening can NEVER be required for anything – it is entirely optional as it carries risk to your healthy body and benefits very few, it’s a gamble – so legally and ethically it is your decision to make…
    There is some great discussion going on at blogcritics and unnecessary pap tests – more than 3500 posts to date – come and join the discussion!

    • Wow, Elizabeth! What a thoughtful response. Thanks for the additional sources. I, for one, will be checking them out.

  9. Elizabeth (Aust) says:

    Actually the pelvic exam is not all that helpful when women have symptoms, so it’s absurd to suggest healthy asymptomatic women need these exams. Doctors also know how uncomfortable and distressing these exams are for many women, so it’s disgusting that they should paint them as a must-have…so many women endure them thinking they’ll drop dead without them.
    Nonsense – trust your body – you don’t need these medical intrusions. Any Dr who claims these exams are must-have exams – get out of there and find another Dr!
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1071590/
    There are studies that have shown the poor clinical value of the pelvic exam in women WITH symptoms, so they’re unhelpful and unnecessary in a symptom-free woman.
    Also, these exams risk your health and can lead to more potentially harmful procedures, even surgery – these routine exams CAN and DO snowball, so don’t allow routine exams unless you’re satisfied they’re in YOUR best interests)
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17099807
    (Stewart & Thistlethwaite, “Routine pelvic exams for asymptomatic women”.

  10. Kleigh (US) says:

    I am 26 and I have never had a pap smear and I never will. This is my body I am the one who will decide what is done to it or not. I have had a nurc talk down to me about my pap smear refusl. my body my right to refuse any exam I do not want. They can get over it, there not giving me a pap smear aganst my will.

  11. Thank you for writing this article and citing so many supporting references. I wish more women educated themselves earlier, including myself. If I ever run for Congress, I will push for real women’s rights in the US health care system. All of this failure to educate the patient so that she can make INFORMED CONSENT, leads to a lack of consent and RAPE. It is abhorrent that my society is allowing this to continue, and worse that the female gynecologists we trust are not making steps to provide for CHOICE.

  12. I agree with this article. I am a doctor and I recently went to my fp for a birth control refill. She insisted on a pap even though I told her that I am low risk, had a pap a year ago, and have never had a negative pap. According to the recommendations I would only need one every 2-3 years. She gave me a two month refill and told me I need to have a pap when to get more pills. I left really pissed because I am definitely an informed pt and am competent enough to refuse unnecessary cancer screenings!! I really prefer to have my doctor write my prescriptions but at least I have the option of asking a colleague for a prescription instead. I feel really bad for people without that option.

    • Debra Brown says:

      I was upset to read about your experience.

      Our doctors don’t recommend pelvic exams at all, they’re actually harmful if the woman has no symptoms and they don’t help, there are no benefits. Pap tests are optional and anyway, our doctors who wait for a year after delivery – hormonal changes and the trauma of childbirth can
      give you a false positive. I can’t believe a doctor would let a woman with a 6 month old baby leave with nothing – it’s inhumane.

      A doctor here would end up at the Medical Board, because the consequences for this woman could be serious and life-threatening.

      A competent and ethical doctor would see the greater risk is letting this woman walk away with no birth control.

      Check out a site called “Blogcritics and Unnecessary pap smears” – there are American women on that site who can properly advise you and give you the name of some reliable online pharmacies to keep you going until you find a new doctor – before you end up with an unplanned pregnancy!
      http://blogcritics.org/culture/article/unnecessary-pap-smears/comments-page-128/#comments

  13. Elizabeth (Aust) says:

    Shana,
    You don’t “need” pap tests at all…they’re elective like mammograms, colonoscopies and PSA testing – something to consider – YOUR decision. Informed consent is a legal and ethical requirement for all cancer screening.
    Pap tests have nothing to do with birth control. Your doctors are coercing women into elective screening – highly unethical. As an educated woman you’re in a position to help other women – lodge a formal complaint against the doctor and take it further….someone needs to stop these doctors – they do not have the right to make decisions for women – they certainly take no responsibility for the negative outcomes – the over-detection and over-treatment which is VERY common – made worse by over-screening. Annual screening is over-screening which leads to more false positives for no additional benefit. ACOG no longer recommend annual screening – it risks your health!

    Many American women are locked out of all healthcare because they refuse pap tests – this is scandalous…many now buy the Pill on line or while on overseas trips.
    You should look at comments made by Dr Robert Hatcher from the Managing Contraception site – he makes clear pap tests have nothing to do with BC – the same goes for breast and bimanual pelvic exams. (google his name, pelvic exams and birth control and it should appear – he cites lots of journal articles)
    Also, “Women after birth control get unneeded pelvic exams” in the WSJ
    We get the Pill with a blood pressure test and after providing our medical history – the only things clinically required for the Pill. (this is also the case in the UK and most of Europe)
    The Pill should be available over-the-counter by now – its been proven safe over decades – men can get Viagra everywhere while women are still required to see a Dr and that can mean being coerced and pressured into unnecessary and harmful exams and tests – it’s also time-consuming and expensive.

  14. I thought I was alone in this situation. Thank god for google, I have fond a group of people who shared the same experiences as me. There need to be a change in this birth control and yearly pep exam or scam! The next question for all of us should be, what can we do to make this change?

    • Molly – I think you ask a valuable question. I think the first part of changing the pap-birth control connection is for women to start educating each other about what we do and don’t need in terms of reproductive health care. It’s time for us to stop listening to the medical establishment – which sees our bodies as a problem. Once we’re educated, we need to tell our health care providers what we do and don’t consent to. That in and of itself is such a radical act.

  15. I’m so glad I found this article. There are some really great comments posted on here too. When I read them I couldn’t help but think, “Yeah! More power to Women!” That comment about viagra for men and a prostate exam was priceless. What we need is the CHOICE to go to a place where there is a doctor that doesn’t require pap smears for birth control prescriptions or a doctor that does. That way everyone is happy, and no one gets blamed for, “Well if you would have had this test you might not have cancer.” I especially love the part in the article about how women are viewed as sexual hazards because some choose to take their health into their own hands. That’s total BS.

    Rock on girls keep this up!

  16. my doctor refused to refill birth control. i told them they were holding it hostage. He sited the importance of the pap test. By the end of the conversation he had released our family told us to get another doctor– No problem there.

  17. Just left the doctors office in tears. Had my baby 6 months ago. I just needed birth control. I was basically told either strip down and have the pelvic, pap-smear and all or leave without birth control. I asked the question what does one have to do with the other to be told ” I am your health care provider and I am looking out for your health. This is the recommendation.” If it’s a recommendation than why is it forced on me? No answer to that. I told her it is my body and I will not do something I am not comfortable with and is totally unnecessary. So she told me to have a good day.
    This is just out of control. What do I do now?

    • This is disgusting behaviour of a doctor!
      Please, take an advantage of a website like ratemds.com and write a comment about this doctor (if that doctor is not listed there yet, you can easily add their name to the list). Let everyone else know what kind of $hit they are going to see of they go to this doctor.

  18. AB that is terrible. Is this the same doctor that delivered your baby? If not, you could try calling her and seeing if she will give you the prescription. Or try planned parenthood. I know they will give out bc without an exam, but not in all cases.

    I had a similar experience, I made an appointment with the doctor and explicitly stated that I wanted a prescription for birth control, but not an exam. They let me make the appointment, wait in the doctor’s office for half an hour, sit in a patient room for about 20 minutes and then the nurse came in and was awkward and uncomfortable and said, yah, we don’t do that. Sorry you misunderstood. Then she tried to guilt me into having the exam.

    I basically went without bc for six months and then just gave in and had the exam. The doctor told me that the new standard is every two year, not every year and for women over 30 its every three years. But then when I got the results there was a note that said exams were required every year. So find a doctor you like and then push her to respect your body.

    Good luck!

  19. Elizabeth (Aust) says:

    Annual pap tests risk your health for no additional benefit over 3 yearly testing – annual tests mean a near certainty you’ll end up referred after a false positive at some point. It’s over-screening…
    I would never use a doctor who used coercion to force me into cancer screening (or anything else!) and to refuse you birth control is outrageous.
    I’d make a formal complaint and report the doctor to the Medical Licensing Board. There has been article after article in your papers and medical journals making clear that pap tests and pelvic exams have NOTHING to do with BC.
    Send these articles to your doctor – but honestly, I’d be looking for a new doctor. Perhaps, when these doctors see their patients leaving them for doctors who treat women respectfully and practice evidence based medicine – putting their patients’ first, they might change their ways. It’s no longer a boycott, as more of your doctors feel the pressure – your Dr Robert Hatcher had some stern words for doctors who “hold” scripts. (see link)
    Anita, your doctor’s conduct is unacceptable and I’m pleased you didn’t give in to her demands. By the way, pap tests should not be performed during pregnancy or just after delivery- you’re more likely to get a false positive due to hormonal changes or trauma – some doctors say wait 6 months, others a year.

    American women should remember that the Dutch and Finnish are offered 7 tests in total, 5 yearly from age 30…and the Dutch are thinking of changing to high risk HPV testing as the primary test – the first of 5 tests will be offered at age 30 and if negative – you can re-test at 35, 40, 50 and 60. If positive, you’re offered a 5 yearly pap test (I assume until you clear the HPV) Only 5% of women are HPV positive by age 40. Some women who test negative many choose to forget further testing, if they’re in a monogamous relationship or no longer sexually active – and can revisit the subject if their risk profile changes in the future. A self-test HPV kit is available as well and I understand there is also a blood test.

    Pap testing has been turned into an industry to generate profits for doctors and to control women…but it also harms and worries vast numbers – other countries put women first and try to protect the more than 99% who’ll never benefit from pap testing and focus their attention on the small number “at risk”.
    I suspect American and Australian doctors are happy with the unreliable pap test and over-using it – it’s a goldmine for them. It really is a shocking abuse of our rights and health.
    http://www.managingcontraception.com/newsevents/dr-bob/pelvic-exam-necessary-for-contraception-rx/

  20. Kudos to this page…support your fellow Ladies! Just say NO!
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Pap-Smears-for-Pills-Urban-Legend/281362521898476

  21. I recently went for my annual exam. I am 38 years old, with 9 pregnancies resulting in 6 live births , 3 misscarriages, and one of those births was a tiny little one we buried because she came too early. Since I was about 18 I have mostly gone for mthe annual, though not always. Never had a bad pap. Never liked it. After losing the one, thins got immensely harder. Many of you women may find it hysterical the level of anxiety I get, but I was so full of anxiety this time that I was unable to eat for 48 hours prior to my appointment, my bp was crazy for me, my heart felt like it would pound out of my chest. You’d think it would get a bit easier, but for whatever reason it has continued to be harder each time. My doctor I have now is the best doctor I have had. I really like him, and he is very compassionate and very kind over everything. This time, we got bp and weight, and because I expected he would demand the exam, I undressed as asked and prepared. However, when he came in, shook my hand and decided to go directly to stuff, I did my best to not be a cry baby (yes…it’s that bad for me) and asked if I can just get my script for my pill and leave today. He balked a bit, laughing like I was joking, and said let’s lay back. Of course, the chuckle helped me to then say I know it isn’t a law that I HAVE to do this and today I don’t want this done. I may have done this many times before but I hate it, and today I refuse. Please just give me my script and let me go. Of course, he cannot force anything on me, and though he can try to “force” it by saying he recommends it, in the end the only thing he can really do is refuse my script. Is THIS even a moral or legal thing for a doctor to do? He gave me the script but expects my visit next year this time to go off without a hitch. I’m already thinking…how the heck do I make myself return next year when this year was soooo ridiculously hard? How do you handle this situation? DO you find a new doctor? I assume a new doctor will eventuallly require one with them before handing out scripts. How many years do you all say your doc should script you without an exam? I’m just seeking opinions. And honest…does it get ot anyone else like me? I’m glad I stood my ground, yet feel like when I left I was probably the laughing stock of the office. If that were indeed something I would find out, I would no longer see him. I believe it is my choice whether he and his nurses think so or not. And way up top I saw a lady post…prostate exam or no viagra…bahahah!!!! Love the idea! Would change some minds about our having exams demanded of us, wouldn’t it?

    • If it helps you feel any better; they shake me up something awful too. I feel violated, nauseous and extremely anxious before and after. If I were you I would interview potential new doctors. I would calmly let them know that I have high anxiety around pap smears and that it has become so bad and so hard for me that I feel my quality of life is better if I avoid them but I still require birth control. I would ask them if they would be happy to provide birth control without insisting or reminding me to have the pap smear or other exams. If you find one who says that they are comfortable with that – and always will be – and you are comfortable with them then you’re set.

  22. Elizabeth (Aust) says:

    Laura,
    Goof for you, standing up for your rights. Pap testing is elective and has nothing to do with the Pill.
    If you change your doctor, let him know why you’re leaving – when they see money walking out the door, they’ll understand that more women are refusing to be coerced into elective cancer screening and completely unnecessary and potentially harmful bi-manual pelvic and breast exams. Attitudes will change fast…the coercive angle only worked because few challenged the legality and ethics of this approach and because all doctors used the same barriers, women felt they had no choice if they wanted BC or medical care. More of your doctors are walking away from coercion and they should be the doctors you use…reward them for behaving ethically and putting your interests ahead of profits and defensive medicine.

    Some of you might be interested to hear the Dutch are already using a self-sample device to test for hrHPV, the Delphi Screener. The Italians, English and Finns are also looking at this device and hrHPV primary triage testing – only those positive for hrHPV are offered a 5 yearly pap test, to a maximum of 7 tests.
    These changes should greatly reduce the negative impact of this testing on the more than 99% of women who can never benefit – much less pap testing and that means, much less over-treatment.
    Lobby your politicians and women’s groups for access to these options. Our doctors dither, debate and over-screen and provide women with no alternatives, when there are far better options out there – the Dutch are already using them.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111020163909.htm

  23. For me it wasn’t even the pap smear! I went to my first gynecologist appointment at the age of 18 for a birth control prescription. I wanted to regulate my periods and had just started college and was worried that I might have sex and wanted to be careful. Over the phone I had specified that I was not sexually active and did not want a pelvic exam. The first thing that the nurse did was hand me a gown and tell me to undress from the waist up. I’m very shy and was shocked and embarrassed. The American Cancer Society recommends that women in their 20s and 30s have a breast exam every three years; women 40 and older need one every year. I’m 18.. when asked why the nurse got very snippy and told me that it was routine.
    The doctor got in the room and said “so I hear you’re not cool with the breast exam”. I thought, “Oh okay, she’ll listen to me, she’s cool.” But instead she started to imply that not doing the test goes against recommended practice and she wouldn’t feel comfortable giving me birth control if I didn’t do it. Thankfully I got it this time, but I am definitely not going back there. Why does she want to screen me for breast cancer (which is unrelated to receiving birth control and should definitely not be a required test for it) when I do self-exams and am definitely too young for that kind of exam.
    She reluctantly wrote my perscription but at the end of the exam reminded me that next tim I came I would have to do the breast exam and the pelvic exam. When I expressed nervousness she looked at me like I was stupid for not wanting the exams. She was the opposite of compassionate just saying that we often do things we don’t want to because they’re good for us, not even responding to my question of whether these exams are excessive when I’m too young to be getting them and when they just make me uncomfortable.
    I am going to find a different doctor who understands my needs better and who will listen to me.

    • Sarah, what a horrible experience. I totally agree with you about finding another provider. No one has the right to speak to you that way.

  24. Elizabeth (Aust) says:

    Sarah,

    Routine breast exams are not recommended at all in Australia or the UK, they don’t help, but lead to unnecessary biopsies. There is some research on the Nordic Cochrane Institute website and this article that appeared in a UK newspaper. Good for you, standing up for yourself and yes, I’d also find a new doctor.
    I would tell your friends to avoid that doctor as well – these doctors need to understand that women will not accept coercion in their medical care and that exams and tests that are unhelpful, harmful and irrelevant are not welcome and should not be tacked on…if it’s not evidence based, it’s more likely to harm us. Every routine exam can lead to some nasty places – biopsies, surgery etc
    We must be able to work with our doctor, not be treated like idiots or children.
    Be careful with breast self-exams – they’ve been out for years here and in the UK, once again, sadly, they don’t help, but cause anxiety and lead to biopsies. The disease is uncommon in young women as well.
    Breast self awareness is now being promoted – simply taking note of the look and shape of your breasts every morning in the mirror after showering…

    http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/health-hands-off-my-chest-doctor-1177987.html

    • That was a lot of my thought process. I didn’t mention this in my original comment but I had a clogged and enlarged hair follicle under my arm that I had already received treatment for from my regular physician. Even after the few days of antibiotics there was still a tiny bump which has since disappeared. I just knew that the breast exam would lead to unnecessary questions and concers when I’d already taken care of the problem.
      I agree. As a college student just trying to take care of myself I become really turned off the idea of even going to these doctors where I expect to be treated like a child upon going.
      Thanks for the comment and the interesting link. I feel like other parts of the world are a lot better at handling women’s health than we seem to be..

  25. This is my story – a few years ago 06/07 [I was a senior in high school then] my period started being all weird. I’ve kinda always had a weird period, but I was always told it wasn’t exactly a big deal. But this time was just not right, I had been bleeding VERY LIGHTLY, almost to the point that you could barely see blood, for about 3 months or so and finally decided I had to figure out what the hell was wrong with me lol. So I had my mom find me a ob-gyn to go too, we found one and it was a office of mostly male doctors with ONE female doctor. Well there was no way in hell I was gonna have a male doctor, hell I wasn’t all that happy about having a female doctor. I HATE going to the doctors. I have what doctors like to call ‘white coat syndrome’. Which is pretty much just saying that I do not like them, and get very nervous and my anxiety/blood pressure goes SKY HIGH when I am around one. I am also a very modest person, I do not get undressed in front of people, not even friends or family. So the thought of some stranger looking at my ‘area’ just had me freaking out. My blood pressure that day was sooooo high. Well anyways to rule out any major problems she wanted to do a pap smear of course, I said no. I was virgin then, and I did not see ANY reason to need that test, so I agreed to go do a ultrasound though. So went and did the ultrasound the next day, not fun drinking all that damn water and then sit in the waiting room forever needing to pee lol, but otherwise that was fine. They never found anything bad on the ultrasound so I went back to my ob-gyn and we talked. I had expressed to her many times that I pretty much will always refuse a pap, I was not worried about cancer. If I get it, whatever – I am the type that believe everything happens for a reason. So the first few months she let me slide and not do the test but around the time that I’d be on birth control to help my period she started really pressing a pap on me. And I kept refusing, usually when I went to her office my mom or grandmother took me, and I’d always ask them if they thought the doctor would make me do a pap, they always said she couldn’t force me – so I continued to see her. Eventually it got to the point that she wouldn’t give me my pills anymore, and I haven’t been back to see her in over a year. [Haven't seen any ob-gyn since then because I don't want to have to change doctors every time they refuse me pills because I won't do the pap test]. Since then my period has kinda held it’s own, but recently it’s started acting up again and I’m thinking of finding a new ob-gyn but I REALLY don’t want too. Because I don’t want to do this stupid pap smear. I just don’t know what to do…

    • Ashley, thank you for sharing your story. I’m really sorry to hear about what you went through. Have you considered visiting a naturopath to talk about your periods? Rather than doing a pap, they will probably do a blood test to look at your hormone levels and talk to you about a whole host of issues, like diet and sleep patterns. I only go to a naturopath now and I’ve been getting acupuncture to help regulate my periods, and this has helped me so much.

      • Well I don’t really know what a naturopath is, so I never thought of that! But maybe I’ll look into it. Well I didn’t mention this but the second time I saw the doctor, after the ultrasound, she did take blood for some tests. She didn’t really say anything about them – like that anything was bad. Except that I was like borderline anemic. I probably should’ve asked about the hormones, but she didn’t mention that, so maybe there was nothing wrong with it? Who knows.

        We both though it was from stress, stress will totally screw your period up. And at the time I was very stressed out with things that were going on at home, and stressing out with dealing with depression and anxiety, so she put me on the pill and that worked great. But it got to the point where I was taken off of it because I wouldn’t do the stupid pap smear. =/
        This time, maybe it’s from my sleep. I’ve always had terrible sleep patterns, I’m a night owl so I like to stay up at night and then I tend to sleep during part of the day. But I just never thought that would mess with my period…

        • Hi Ashley. When blood is drawn during a pap exam, they’re typically looking for STIs, rather than looking at your hormone levels. I’m not a doctor, so I’m not giving medical advice. I’m just telling you about my experience and what I’ve learned for switching to wholistic medicine.

          When a naturopath has your blood drawn to examine reproductive health issues, one thing they’re looking at is how your thyroid functions. The thyroid produces hormones, and hormone levels will certainly impact your periods. The naturopath should be asking the lab to look at both the T4 and T3 levels. Here’s some more info about that:
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thyroid_hormone

          As far as acupuncture goes, it can work wonders on reproductive health issues. I was having really heavy periods with massive cramping and migraines. After just a few weeks of acupuncture, my last two periods have been back to “normal” for me – only three days of light bleeding, no cramping, and no headaches. If you’re interested in acupuncture, check out the Community Acupuncture Movement to find an affordable clinic in your area. I only pay $15 per visit, so I can actually afford to go twice a week. I love going in for treatment because I get an hour of time to myself twice a week. It’s amazing! Here’s a link that can help you find a clinic:
          https://www.pocacoop.com/clinics

          You don’t need to get a pap to help figure out your periods. There are lots of herbal options and a more wholistic approach. So please don’t put up with invasive medical care if you don’t have to do it.

          Just my two cents.

          • Sorry, I should’ve noted this – she drew blood from my arm not from a pap. I’ve never had a pap smear, because I refuse to do it lol.

            I don’t know about acupuncture – not sure I’d like that being that I don’t like needles. =/
            I’m a big baby when it comes to needles lol.

            I used to have the same kind of periods – super heavy, horrible cramps and bad headaches but seems like since I was on the birth control years ago, I don’t have periods that are like that anymore. My only problem is that they are so irregular. It pretty much comes and goes whenever it feels like! And it drives me insane lol.

          • Actually, the needles for acupuncture aren’t that bad. I don’t even feel them when they get put into my skin. But I can totally relate to a fear of needles. I want a tattoo, but I’ll never get it because I hate needles.

          • Me too! I wanna get a tattoo that I designed a few years ago, but I’m so fearful that I wouldn’t be able to handle the needles/pain. And I don’t wanna start it and then have to stop with part of ink on me ya know? lol.

  26. This might be too much information and it will probably be very long but here goes..

    Around the age of 15-16 I started getting lumps, that were similar to boils, on the insides of my thighs. I remember hiding it for a long time from my mother. I felt disgusting. Eventually I told her, and we went to see a nurse practitioner. She wasn’t extremely helpful. I went through a lot of antibiotics for probably a good year or so, with little results. As soon as I stopped the antibiotics the bumps returned and even got worse, getting closer into my groin area. I was sent to a dermatologist at 17, who also wasn’t exactly sure what the issue was, but decided it might be a type of acne and had the nurse practitioner put me on birth control. It helped a great deal. I rarely had a boil, maybe one or two every couple months, which was a huge imporvement.
    Anyhow, time went on. When I went in to get a BC refill at age 20, it was mentioned that I would need a pap smear “next time”, when I would be 21. Mind you, I was a virgin being told I would need it done. A year went by, I made an appointment for the refill, nothing was mentioned about a pap. I went to my appointment, and was told to take my clothes off, pee in a cup, and then lay down. Instantly I freaked. I remember asking myself why a virgin would need this test and feeling like I was going to pass out. Luckily and unluckily, a different NP came in, asked me a few questions, and when I told her I was a virgin, she told me I did not need a pap smear. Sweet relief. But then as i sat naked in an open front gown, she proceeded to treat me like a child, by instructing me how sex and pap smears work, having me make a circle with my fingers and then stick another finger in the hole. Just because I am a virgin, doesn’t mean I am clueless. She then gave me another years BC.
    A year has gone by now. I recently called this same practice to schedule a refill appointment, and was now informed that even though I am STILL a virgin in all ways, I will HAVE to have a pap smear to get my birth control pills. I have been having panic attacks since and only have less than a month of pills left. I do not want a pap. I don’t see why it is necessary on a virgin. The thought of having it done even makes me feel violated. I also don’t fancy the idea of the first thing that is “down there” being a speculum, which will most likely cause me pain. I’m a painfully shy person. I don’t know if I can stand up to her, and worse yet, if I do stand up to her, and don’t get my pills, my “problem”,(which I have come to find out is most likely Hidradenitis Suppurtiva (spelling?) will come right back with a vengence. I don’t know what to do and I’m running out of time.

    • If I were you I would go to Planned Parenthood and say that you’ve already had a pap smear in the last 6 months. They should give you the prescription with no questions asked. If they do get too inquisitive or insistent then just leave. Take a support person with you. I suffer from skin conditions too so I know how painful and embarrassing they can be. Good luck!

  27. JAY-jay says:

    Hi there,
    Just wanting to know if a doctor can refuse you of the pill if you not getting a pap smear done when they say your due in. I usually get it done in the same month as my b’day but i just got a text today saying that i need to make an appointment now for a smear test. I used to live in Australia but now im living in NZ so i just wanted to know the facts.
    I wanted to get another prescription of the pill cuz i ran out, but im worried because if i dont go in for this damn smear test he could refuse me from getting the pill until i get it. Can this happen???

    • Good question, Jay-Jay. I think it depends on the laws in New Zealand.

    • There’s no law in New Zealand requiring health care providers to require a cervical/pap smear before prescribing birth control. They may recommend it and remind you of it (even via mail) but it is not a legal requirement. The only medical requirement is to check your blood pressure before giving the initial or repeat prescription. In NZ, cervical smears are recommended every 3 years but it’s absolutely your choice. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

  28. I absolutely agree with you. I am from New Zealand, which is part of the British Commonwealth in the Pacific to the South East of Australia, and have just moved to the USA at age 26. I was shocked when I looked at Planned Parenthood’s website to see that they routinely do annual bi/manual exams, pelvic exams and pap smears merely for birth control prescriptions.

    In NZ it is recommended to have a pap smear (and only the pap smear) every 3 years and only after about 20 years old. The only time an annual smear is recommended is after a slightly abnormal or inflamed smear. The rate of false positives and over treatment here in the USA really intimidates me. I read that in European countries the recommendation is every 3-5 years and at least one country only recommends to have them every 5 years beginning at age 30.

    I am very concerned about false positives, having birth control withheld until I have a smear test, unnecessary bi/manual exams and invasive follow ups to false positives like colposcopy and hysterectomy. I’m unsure where to go for more birth control as I only have a 6 month supply and no medical insurance coverage yet. I will try Planned Parenthood and assert my right to refuse the exam. If they refuse to give me my medicine then I will have to keep looking.

  29. I’m so scared now!
    I have PCOS symptoms and scheduled a Well Woman exam to see if I have cysts, etc. Now I am thinking about cancelling! Is it even helpful for symptomatic women? What are the dangers…do they outweigh the positives?
    Please help! Thank you!

    • Lin, I can relate to your fears. But canceling your appointment is not the best path forward. Keep your appointment and just be honest with your provider about your fears.

  30. I just got back from my local Walgreens where I had hoped to pick up my next pack of pills – only to be informed by the pharmacist that my refill was refused. No explanation. After some quick research – and coming across this site – I realize that the problem must be that I’m overdue (by 2 months) for my annual exam. I was never informed by my doctor that I would need an exam in order to refill (I’ve been on the pills for about 3 months with no problems and no history of medical problems). I feel that providing quick and easy access to pregnancy prevention should be a priority for all women’s health centers. No matter what. I had an unplanned pregnancy when I was younger (and am now a mother to a much-loved 12-year old son), so I should know how an unplanned pregnancy completely turns your life upside down. It can be potentially disastrous for some women. Health care providers should never prevent women from access this potentially life saving protection. Frustrating beyond words. Now I have to wait until MONDAY (it’s now Friday evening) to even begin the aggravation of sorting this mess out with my doctor. Wait times for appointments are booked weeks in advance and with my busy work schedule as a single mother, I expect to be in the mess for a number of weeks.

    • Kristen, this is bollacks. So sorry to hear this is the case for you. Best of luck getting your prescription sorted out. And hopefully you can get in with a new doctor after this who won’t hold your BC hostage.

    • That’s how the doctor really “care” about women’s health! They would rather wreck all the cycle and hormone balance in the woman’s body by denying bc pills that agree that the woman has a right to refuse pap crap.
      Abuse of power and deliberate damage – and they call it health care!

  31. I’d just like to say how happy I am to have found a place where people support my view that most of the time pap smears are not necessary. I have a huge fear of doctors, and it definitely doesn’t help when you are confronted at a general appointment or an appointment to refill a pill prescription demanding that you have a pap smear before they will provide you with a prescription. Living in Australia, I am lucky that we take a slightly more laid back approach to pap smears and annual gynecological exams than America, however I still feel uncomfortable at the fact that the subject comes up at every doctors appointment despite the fact that I will, every time flatly refuse any sort of such exam without a very damn good reason – such as my presentation of dire symptoms. I hate feeling judged despite the fact that I am married, and neither my husband or I have ever had any sexual contact with anyone but each other. There is always the presumption that “the risk should not be taken because you can never be 100% certain that your partner is not lying to you”. It angers me to tears that a doctor who has known you for 5 minutes dares make an assumption on a person I have been with for my entire adult life (and have known since my early teens).
    I had one horrendous experience which has only made my fear of doctors increase. After moving to a new city, I needed to refill my pill prescription. Fighting my fear, I decided to be totally adult and honest with a doctor that came highly recommend by a work colleague. I had begun to experience some light spotting with a very low dose triphasic pill and already knew from my own research that it was most likely simply time to make a switch to a different pill. From the moment I entered the surgery, I was boarded with books of paperwork and information pertaining to women’s health. This in itself had me a little nervous and the emphasis on gynecological health reminded me of stories I had read online about women in America. I went into the examination room and immediately, before I even had a chance to explain why I was there, had questions relating to my sexual health fired at me. After answering the many questions to this so called professional and complete stranger, she began scheduling me in for a follow up appointment for pap smear. I explained that I was just there to refill my pill prescription and that I saw no need for a pap smear as there was no possible way I could have an STD. She argued the point that there was still a chance I could get cervical cancer, then let it go for a moment and asked me how I was finding the current pill I was on. I was completely honest about in regards to the light spotting I was experiencing at times. She immediately began throwing around the ideas that spotting could be caused by cancer and that there was no way I could be certain that I was 100% safe from cancer and STDs (and right there making assumptions about mine and my husbands lifestyles). She insisted I begin a new pill which (with a degree of skepticism in her voice) “might” fix the problem. Right there she almost had me convinced that I was probably going to die of cervical cancer. As she was writing up the prescription the subject of a follow up appointment arose once again. I was feeling extremely agitated and scared at this point and rather childishly I said “No, I DON’T want one!” Almost feeling like a disobedient child being reprimanded by an authority figure, she turned to me and said “Well, I’m not writing you a prescription then”. The anger on my face must have said it all because moments later she told me she would write me a prescription for one trial pack of pills “to see if it sorts out my spotting” and informed me there was no way I would be getting anymore without a pap smear. I thanked her (I was fuming, but I’m a polite person) and stormed out of the office feeling violated and taken advantage of.
    I was very skeptical about trying the new pills prescribed. In the back of my mind, I had this crazy thought that this doctor was out to prove me wrong; out to beat me into submitting to her pap smear (and most likely help her fill her quotas…) and waiting for me to come crawling back to her defeated. My husband convinced me to try them and they turned out to be perfect. I do very occasionally get some spotting after having taken these pills for nearly 4 years, but I have found a pattern to it – it only happens (and not all the time) if I am sick. I’m definitely more in tune with my body after that horrid experience and I’ve discovered what is and isn’t normal for me in regards to my body, particularly in regards to gynecological matters. On the downside, I don’t think I will ever trust doctors again.
    I’ve since been to two extremely lovely doctors who I briefly informed about my fear and bad experience. One brought up the fact the he saw it as “a good idea” to get a pap smear and the other (after experiencing me having a major panic attack in her office next to my husband” said it was something that doesn’t need to be spoken about at this stage but would be a good idea to look at down the track (though I’m still firmly set in my mind that I won’t have one as I know I have no good reason to). Despite these positive experiences, there is no way I’m going to bring up any symptoms relating to my pill – it’s a risk I’m willing to take to ensure I don’t go through another bad experience and if I’m concerned, I will stop taking the pills first and see what happens before even considering a visit to the doctor.
    It saddens me that as patients (and perhaps how doctors are trained), we are given so much misinformation in regards to what is and isn’t required to maintain our health. I live a reasonably risk free lifestyle (don’t smoke, eat well and maintain a healthy weight, drink alcohol rarely) and yet at every corner it’s “take this pill, get this test”. Is it money the medical and pharmaceutical industries are after or are they really trying to improve our health and longevity? I sound like a paranoid lunatic at times when I talk to my friends about my unwillingness to submit myself to so much medical intervention without cause, but I don’t understand why if I have no symptoms, I should be tested for things I’m not likely to get. We all have brains but we don’t get annual ECG or CAT scans because there is a risk we’ll end up with a brain tumor, or because we might get a headache once or twice a month, or because we might be putting ourselves at higher risk of brain cancer by using mobile phones. Why do we treat sexual health so differently when the risks of something going wrong are the same as for any other part of our body?

  32. Elizabeth says:

    Cherie,
    Good for you. As a low risk woman my risk of cervical cancer is also near zero, I have always declined pap testing…an informed decision made nearly 30 years ago. Informed women will find it easier to resist the pressure and scare tactics roll off our backs…doctors back off quickly when confronted with the rare informed woman. Given almost all real information is suppressed, few women really understand the risks and actual benefits of pap testing. Australia seriously over-screens and as a result we have very high referral and over-treatment rates…77% is the lifetime risk of referral for a cancer with a 0.65% lifetime risk. No woman needs 26 pap tests, it’s excessive and harmful. Our doctors also receive target payments for pap testing. A recent study showed no benefit over-screening women, it compared the huge number of pap tests American women have with the 7 offered to Dutch women, 5 yearly from 30 to 60. There was no difference in terms of benefit, but other studies have shown our referral rates and American referral rates are much higher than the Netherlands.
    Our doctors refused to prescribe the Pill without the works when I was a young woman and so it was out for me, I knew these gyn exams were unnecessary and risked my health and that pap testing, legally and ethically, is my choice. I would not allow a doctor to coerce me into testing.
    I studied the Billings Method and have controlled my own fertility..with no accidents. It has enabled me to protect my body and health and control my healthcare and life. I’ve watched the worry and harm this testing has caused to so many women over the decades and it’s been hard and made me very angry…most of this damage was avoidable with screening handled ethically and responsibly.

    The evidence has moved on and now the Dutch Health Council has recommended a move to 5 hrHPV primary triage tests offered at ages 30,35,40,50 and 60 and only the 5% who are positive will be offered a 5 yearly pap test. Those negative can follow the HPV program or test themselves with the Delphi Screener…and those negative and in mutually monogamous relationships or no longer sexually active…they can forget all testing and revisit the subject if their risk profile changes.

    The numbers said it all for me….near zero risk from this rare cancer or a 77% lifetime risk of colposcopy and some sort of biopsy or laser treatment…over-treatment can and does harm women and can lead to infertility, premature babies etc…
    If you want to do some reading…take a look at Dr Joel Sherman’s medical privacy blog and the research by Dr Angela Raffles…and you’re not alone, Dr Margaret McCartney recently had an article published in the Independent where she explains why she has declined to have pap tests.
    In my opinion, our doctors should be ashamed of themselves, all silent and receiving target payments for knowingly over-screening and over-treating their patients….they are risking their patients health and harming many of them and all with no informed consent…their conduct also IMO, shows a deep disrespect for the bodily privacy of women and their legal rights.
    http://patientprivacy.blogspot.com.au/2011/09/womens-privacy-concerns-part-7.html
    http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/features/why-im-saying-no-to-a-smear-7577967.html

  33. I’m a bit late to the party here, but I thought I would share my experiences. I recently went to the doctor after becoming concerned that my lack of motivation and constant ‘down’ mood might be depression. I was right. I was diagnosed with depression, put on Anti-depressants and was requested to make a weekly appointment to discuss my progress with the doctor.

    Here’s the kicker…on the third appointment, the doctor asked if I had ever had a pap test. I said ‘no’ and she immediately booked one for me. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want a pap test. I wasn’t even there for a vaginal related problem! Just right in the middle of a discussion about my depression, she asks “oh by the way, have you ever had a pap test?”
    A part of me felt like my doctor had tricked or betrayed me. She knew I was in a weakened mental state, she knew I was having trouble coping with the world around me. I couldn’t help but wonder if she used this weakness to book a completely unnecessary test for me in order to get more money out of me :(

  34. Amy

    That is was is known as opportunistic screening. You will go and see a doctor about a problem and the next thing you know it’s off with the knickers and get on the couch! You were lucky to get away with a later appointment. I expect the doctor has a quota to meet – and more money is paid if a new patient is caught in the net. Women are being herded to screening with no informed consent. Cancel your appointment. Change your doctor. Never admit that you have not had a pap otherwise you will be subject to endless nagging about making an appointment. Unscreened women are cash cows to doctors. It’s all about the money.

  35. Elizabeth (Aust) says:

    Research shows opportunistic screening causes psychological issues for women, IMO, it’s unethical – it gives the woman no opportunity to consider whether she wants to have a pap test and puts her on-the-spot…yet most screening authorities recommend it because they simply don’t care about individual women, they’re trying to achieve a political target – herd as many women as possible into pap testing – informed consent, our legal right, just gets in the way. In Australia, the Govt rewards GPs for reaching screening targets (just raised to 70%) – they receive financial incentives. So, women are viewed as targets, not adults. All highly unethical – and a shameful way to treat women, you’d never see that sort of conduct and these attitudes in prostate screening.
    A woman might see a male doctor for an earache, but not for a pap test, but opportunistic screening means she may feel pressured to agree to the test and feel distressed and taken advantage of as a result. Some doctors may also take advantage with the power this gives them over young women – especially in the States were doctors are permitted to deny women birth control pills until they agree to an elective cancer screening test that has nothing to do with contraception or anything else. The consult room can be an intimidating place, so women should stay alert and if feeling pressured – get up and leave and then send a formal complaint explaining why you left.
    I would instantly lose respect for a doctor who tried to ambush me in a consult room, pressured me or wasted my consult time pursing her target and payment rather than dealing with the reason for my visit…or a GP who failed to present screening as a choice and who failed to explain both the risks and actual benefits. The reality is most women are simply ordered into testing with no real information. This is not ethical cancer screening, it’s an abuse of our legal rights and of proper ethical standards – don’t allow it!
    My doctor understands why I choose not to have pap tests or breast screening and has simply made a note on my file, never to be mentioned again. When you know that only 5% of women at age 30 are HPV positive and they are the only ones who can benefit from a 5 yearly pap test, you understand all of this over-screening, inappropriate screening and potentially harmful over-treatment is about maximizing profits for vested interests.

  36. Amy, I whould have told that doctor , no I am not having a pap smear that is not what I am hear for. And be firm. you have a right to refuse and she didnt ask you for permission befor she made that appt. She had no right. I whuold cancel.

  37. One just has to follow the simple logic:
    - Insertion of any object into women’s vagina when she doesn’t want it – called RAPE.

    Therefore, performing a pap smear on unwilling women is a rape.
    - Any medical practitioner, or any other person, who is pressuring a woman to do a pap

    smear is committing a coercion for rape.
    - Any misleading information about pap smear, which is used by such person in order to

    push the woman into the pap smear, is a tool for coercion for rape.

    They can call it “screening”, “life saving test”, “necessary exam” – any way they like.

    The fact is that if a pap smear is imposed on a woman, or if any misleading information

    is used, IT IS A RAPE.
    Simple as that.

    P.S. There is a wonderful article on annystudio.com called “Your health, your body – your right, your choice”, it opened my eyes on many things.

  38. I live in Australia, here getting a pap test for birth control is not necessary. Its necessary after the age of 18 if you have ever had sex every two years or so.

    But to the people saying its pointless and there’s no benefit, you’re idiots. It saved my Mum, she had fast growing abnormalities which were quickly heading towards cancerous.

  39. Also, I want equality but many of you woman seem to be going further. Woman are no better than men, as men are no better than women.

    Prostate exams have the same targets.

    If you want to stay healthy male or female its wise to take the exam.

  40. And again, 1 in 2 Australian’s will have cancer in their lifetime. Thats bigger than obesity in which we are global leaders.

    Cancer is real, as is the risk.

  41. Elizabeth (Aust) says:

    Loise, pap tests are not required for anything, they are optional, nothing more…
    Australian women are some of the most over-screened and over-treated in the world…it was always an excessive program, but is now more than a decade behind the evidence…it’s harmful, maximizing risk for no additional benefit over something like Finland’s 6-7 pap test program. Our program is FAR more likely to harm…Your mother may have been treated for abnormalities, but so are huge numbers of women, almost all have been over-treated. The lifetime risk of referral for colposcopy/biopsy here is 77% for a cancer with a lifetime risk of 0.65%….huge over-treatment thanks to far too many pap tests starting far too early and continuing for far too long.
    Pap testing is pointless on HPV negative women and that’s 95% of women over age 30 and not one country in the world has shown a benefit pap testing those under 30. We may never see HPV primary triage testing in Australia, those that have kept excess in place will continue to exert their influence. Women will need to demand evidence based testing…like hrHPV primary triage testing and many women would welcome a reliable self-test option like the Delphi Screener.
    There is no program and no targets for prostate cancer and men were properly informed of risks and the uncertainty of benefit if they chose to test, women have never received balanced information on screening.
    I’d suggest you do some reading, just agreeing to every screening test carries risk with few (if any) benefiting and some/many are left worse off…you could even lose your life, so you should understand what you’re agreeing to…it’s your healthy symptom-free body on the line.

  42. Loise, you are obviously one of those countless women that have been made to believe that pap smear saved your mum because “she had fast growing abnormalities which were quickly heading towards cancerous”. 90% of such abnormalities heal without any treatment.

    Of course, it’s up to you and your mum if you prefer to have all the pap smears you can get, of to burn, cut, scrape and leep your cervix once your pap smear reveals a single “abnormal” cell. No one is taking this choice from you. Even more, all the women who refuse pap smears end up paying for yours through Medicare.

    All we want is the same freedom not to have the pap crap if we choose to. We want the right to be left alone and not be harassed by vagina-obsessed doctors and by stupid pap smear registers, or to be told by misled women with zero knowledge of real medical facts what we should do. Get your head out of sand and see who you should call an idiot.

  43. I went to chemist today they say Levlen ed is now Ava 30 ED? Does anyone know why? my doctor and the chemist are saying different things. I’m confused. I live in NZ by the way, I don’t know if its just a change of brand or the whole thing completely?
    After finding this site I cannot believe how doctors force you into taking a pap smear, just today when I asked if I could get my year prescription of the pill and she said no because its the law that you can only get a 6 month prescription, she even had the guts to say to me that: Have you had your pap smear yet? and have you been booked? because the girls here will constantly run you up about it until you have one.

    I was thinking.. yep just like that site I was on telling me how they try to control you and your body. Lucky for me though I’m moving back to Aus so they couldn’t really do anything about that, told her after she prescribed the pill of course haha. I do dread now every time I go into the doctors,just after hearing about all these horrible stories that happened to many women on here when they got their pap smears.It just frustrates me how this world is ran by money and there are no decent doctors left.

  44. Theodora Vaughan says:

    I have been subjected to pap smears since the age of 16 all because i wanted to practice safe sex. yes i still used condoms but god forbid what if guys kept them in their cars or their wallets or they just were faulty. At least i had some say in the matter. now i have been engage for 2 years in a monogamous relationship and i cant even get birth control just to protect from unwanted pregnancy its either spend a fortune on a pap smear or spend a fortune on condoms. If doctors are afraid women will have bad side affects by allowing birth control to be otc then they should regulate it by requiring an appointment but not an exam. it is rather demeaning and sexist that they require such an exam that results in more false positives then any actual cases of cervical cancer. If anyone knows how to start a movement against this please tell me and i will get this ball rolling!!

  45. This is the reason I am fearful (yes, fearful) of going to the doctor to get my birth control. In the past I have been shamed, ganged up on, called ‘selfish’ and told I’m ‘uneducated’ for refusing a pap smear. It made me feel embarrassed and stupid that I was apparently doing something “wrong” for simply refusing a pap smear, when all I wanted was birth control to regulate my periods.

    I hate sitting in the waiting room for hours and hours, nervous and jittery, because I don’t know if I’m going to be shamed and insulted when I walk into the doctor’s office or not.

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