ONTD Political

Holding Birth Control Hostage

7:30 pm - 04/30/2012
Doctors still require women to submit to cancer screenings and pelvic exams to get birth control pills. Scientists say that shouldn't happen.

Recently, my doctor gave me an ultimatum: Come in for a pelvic exam, or I won't refill your birth control pills. The problem arose after I tried to get my prescription refilled before going on vacation in March, only to be told that the doctor's office wouldn't sign off on the refill because it had been a year and one month since I'd had an annual exam and a Pap smear. A nurse grudgingly gave me a monthlong reprieve if I promised to come in for an exam when I returned from my trip.

I really, really didn't want to go in for an exam. I've had two kids, a false positive Pap test and all the ensuing misery that comes with it, and spent enough time in the stirrups to last a lifetime. All I really wanted were my pills; I was pretty sure the exam could wait another year or more.

The science was on my side.

Rest of the article under the cutCollapse )
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yeats 1st-May-2012 02:47 am (UTC)
There is one way to change the system: Make the Pill an over-the-counter (OTC) drug. If women could get birth control pills from a pharmacy, like they do in other countries, and could decide for themselves whether they should have a pelvic exam every year, the country could experience serious health care savings. Unnecessary health care treatment overall is estimated to cost at least $158 billion a year.

idk...while small, the risk of serious side effects from birth control is real...i think it's reasonable to ask that women consult with their doctors, at least the first time they take birth control. anecdata is not data, i know, but my sister had a horrendous, life-threatening reaction to oral contraceptive when she was first on the pill. who knows what would have happened if she wasn't under the care of an ob-gyn.
maladaptive 1st-May-2012 03:09 am (UTC)
I'm kind of surprised to read that BC is so safe, given all the obscenely horrible side-effects that regularly happen-- I'm not talking blood clots (someone I know had a pulmonary embolism, probably thanks to the very pill I'm on)-- but things like mood swings. Ortho-try-cyclin gave me the worst morning sickness ever. At midnight. Every night.

That just doesn't seem... OTC-y? Or maybe it is and other OTC meds have some ridiculous and common side-effects. I guess it wasn't dangerous that I was barfing my brains out.
tabaqui 1st-May-2012 03:15 am (UTC)
So not news that doctors act like condescending asshats, especially to women. I loathed gyno exams - my cervix was short or tilted or *something* and the fucking speculum hurt like a bitch. Had *one* male doc do it and i told him that it hurt, etc., before hand and he just ignored me and rammed the fucking thing on in. I about kicked him in the face.

Next time i went elsewhere and they used a different speculum that was shorter or something and it was bearable.

Women, it seems, are *always* being forced to jump through hoops at the doctor's office. So damn glad i got a hysterectomy.
lizzy_someone 1st-May-2012 04:04 am (UTC)
anaid_rabbit 2nd-May-2012 11:38 pm (UTC)
Exactly. They must be shamed first.
romp 1st-May-2012 05:16 am (UTC)
A 2010 study published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology found that 33 percent of doctors always require a pelvic exam and Pap smear for a hormonal contraception prescription, and 44 percent regularly do so, even though there's no medical reason for linking the two.

I had no idea about this or that science doesn't support annual pap smears. I knew mammograms were problematic but not that. Good to know.
nyxelestia 1st-May-2012 05:48 am (UTC)
I got kinda lucky on this one. First time I went for a birth control prescription, I asked if I was supposed to get a pap smear and my nurse practitioner was the one who said I didn't need one as I wasn't sexually active yet. I ended up not filling it because of some period problems (23 day period, not fun) and when I saw a gynecologist, he tried a vaginal ultrasound to figure out what was but when that hurt he opted for a blood test instead, and still ended up filling the prescription. (I had an exam, but as the first visit was my first ever gyne visit and the second was searching for a legit problems, in both cases it was fairly well justified).

However, due to other factors, I never filled out the second prescription either, so if/when I do go on BC, I'm going to need another visit...and this time, there's not going to be any legit reason for a pelvic exam, but I will probably need one, anyway. Not looking forward to it, and dreading the doctor sticking anything wider than a finger up there. >.
bowtomecha 1st-May-2012 06:05 am (UTC)
"directly related to fewer abortions and unplanned pregnancies."

This is all that should be necessary to shut these people up.
kyra_neko_rei 1st-May-2012 03:20 pm (UTC)
If pro-lifers were pro-life, the world would be a much better place.
omimouse 1st-May-2012 08:17 am (UTC)
-hugs Cabell-Huntington's OBGYN dept-

Seriously, all my experiences with this hospital have lead me to believe that there's a hospital policy about keeping up to date with research in your field of medicine, or *something*. Last time I was there, they were mentioning that they try very hard to avoid doing pap smears unless there's other risk factors going on that warrant checking. Or they do them if they're going to be in there for something else anyway, like when I got my IUD put in.

So yeah, not moving from this area if these guys aren't the norm.
elialshadowpine 1st-May-2012 09:24 am (UTC)
The low cost clinic I go to now since losing my previous doc also apparently keeps up to date. I about hugged the doctor when she told me I only needed to do them every three years. When it came time for me to get my nuvaring refill, I was all like.... "um um um that's still the case yesss?" and she's like, "Well, we can do it sooner if it would make you more comfortable but--" "NO NO NO IT'S PERFECT JUST THE WAY IT IS."

Prior doc had a clinic policy of annual. Sweet doc, very understanding of my past trauma and issues, also was the first to tell me WHY pap smears hurt so much (uncooperative tilted cervix) despite having had previously six gynecologists working down there... sigh. But, glad to not have to deal with the panic attack every year.
sparkindarkness 1st-May-2012 10:33 am (UTC)
Y'know, even if annual exams are absolutely essential and wonderful and should happen - they still shouldn't bne mandatory

Sure, have the doctor say "hey, look, you should have this exam every day and I advise you make an appointment for one" and then let the woman choose whether or not to act on that ADVICE, because it's still her decision being her body and her health

Don't say "you're not getting these pills unless you do what I say - because I need to make your medical decisions for you, you silly silly woman you"

Even if it had a medical point, it's still wrong to force a woman to have a medical exam she doesn't want
possiblyevil 1st-May-2012 02:12 pm (UTC)
So are doctors really going to make me have a pelvic exam and pap smear just to get BC? :/

I couldn't look at my usual clinic for nearly a year without feeling sick after my first pap smear, but I can't stand dealing with my period anymore. It's making me ill and miserable...
mingemonster 1st-May-2012 04:47 pm (UTC)
people (and i think you know who i'm talking about...) really love finding reasons to put things in us against our will, huh?
maenads_dance 1st-May-2012 07:28 pm (UTC)
I can't help but be amused about this. Tying a pap smear to birth control prescriptions is a public health measure. The idea is, how do we make sure a population is screened for health problems? Tie the screening to a popular prescription, so people are motivated to get the exam.

I read a lot of people saying that the exam is unnecessary -- and if it is, great! God knows pelvic exams are unpopular. They've never bothered me, but that's just me, I'm not speaking for anyone else.

But what's definitely coming up is how unpopular pap smears are. And what if pap smears were medically necessary, as they've long been thought to be? How would you ensure that people get the necessary screening exam done if said people really hate the exam?

It's a moral quandary that's a bit more complex than people are making it out to be. Personal liberty isn't the only issue.
mirhanda 1st-May-2012 08:23 pm (UTC)
So what is the "popular prescription" we've tied prostate screening to? It's not viagra or any other impotence drug, I know that for a fact. I also know that almost every man who undergoes an autopsy after age 65 has prostate cancer regardless of what he died of.
illusivevenstar 1st-May-2012 09:54 pm (UTC)
They are holding medication hostage until I submit to an incredibly invasive exam.

Luckily, my GP gives me my BC even when I refuse the exam. That is definitely not common. Bless her.

And to the women who think these exams aren't a big deal and how they don't bother you, good for YOU. Don't tell me how to feel about them. Thanks.
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