Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Birth Control Health Center

Font Size

Getting Examined to Get the Pill

For more information about contraceptives, check out WebMD's Women's Health board moderated by Jane Harrison-Hohner, RN, RNP. continued...

"This paper offers important information and hopefully will allay some of women's anxieties about prescription hormones," says Holly Thacker, MD. "Almost half of all pregnancies are unintended, and this occurs not just in teenage women, but also in women over age 40." Thacker is the head of women's health at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, and assistant professor of medicine at Ohio State Medical School in Columbus.

Jonathan S. Berek, MD, believes doctors don't need to do a physical exam in order to prescribe oral contraceptives "particularly for young, healthy, nonsmoking women. The risks associated with unwanted pregnancy are considerably higher than any of the exceedingly rare complications of hormonal contraception in that group of women." Berek is professor and chair of the College of Applied Anatomy at the UCLA School of Medicine and chief of the Division of Gynecologic Oncology.

However, there are people who disagree.

Janet Pregler, MD, believes while it may not be scientifically necessary to have a pelvic exam on the same day you get your prescription for birth control pills refilled, there are very good reasons for doing so. "It's in your interest to have these exams done. From a convenience standpoint, most women want to get as much done in one visit as possible, so I don't see any reason to separate these two things." Pregler is the director of the Iris Cantor-UCLA Women's Health Center and center director for the UCLA National Center of Excellence in Women's Health.

One important part of the pelvic exam is the Pap test, which Pregler calls "the most effective cancer screening test we have, because we actually sample cells on the cervix. This form of cancer grows slowly, so we can essentially guarantee a women if she gets this test done regularly, she won't die of that form of cancer."

Those who support the new approach to contraception are concerned about the substantial number of teenage unplanned pregnancies.

"It is difficult for some young, sexually active women to come to terms with this issue and deal with it in a mature way," Thacker says. "Hopefully this new approach will make hormonal contraception more available."

Today on WebMD

Here's what to expect.
man opening condom wrapper
Do you know the right way to use them?
birth control pills
Here's what to do next.
doctor and patient
His and her options.
Concerned teenage girl
hospital gown
Birth Control Pills Weight Gain
Ortho Evra Birth Control Patch
contraceptive pills
Young couple looking at each other, serious
woman reading pregnancy test result