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Readers Respond: Reasons women avoid Pap smears: Is it fair to require them for birth control?

Responses: 194

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Updated October 14, 2010

Although Pap smears are an essential part of cervical cancer prevention, some women are simply unwilling or unable to have one. This can, potentially, cause other problems for them since many doctors refuse to give out oral contraceptives without a Pap smear - even though a Pap smear is not medically necessary to receive pills. Share your stories about whether you think that such requirements are unjust, or whether this "rule" has encouraged you to be proactive about taking care of your health when you might have otherwise avoided the exam.

NOTE: To answer anonymously, log out of your account and post as a guest. Share Your Thoughts

WRONG IN SO MANY WAYS

BIRTH CONTROL SHOULD BE SOLD OVER THE COUNTER, NO QUESTIONS ASKED, PERIOD. BIRTH CONTROL SHOULD BE LOW COST OR FREE--GOVERNMENT SUBSIDIZED, EVEN. BEST USE OF TAX PAYER MONEY EVER. AND, THERE IS NO MEDICAL REASON IN THE WORLD TO REQUIRE AN EXAM OR TRIP TO THE DOCTOR. IT'S JUST A WAY FOR THE INDUSTRY TO MAKE A LOT OF MONEY OFF OF WOMEN AND KEEP THEIR THUMB ON THEM. I CANNOT BELIEVE THE SYSTEM STILL HASN'T CHANGED, DECADES LATER. IMAGINE A WORLD WHERE EVERY WOMAN'S HORMONES ARE PERFECTLY BALANCED AND SHE'S IN CONTROL.
—Guest SHERRI

Vaginismus

It's more than aggravating how many doctors don't know about or understand sexual disorders like vaginismus (or how many women don't even know about it), yet when a woman is genuinely in pain, crying uncontrollably on the table, they insist on doing the exam anyway. I realize many people have no problem with it, but some of us genuinely do, and it's ridiculous to insist that we have this exam if we're in the low risk categories (virgins, no STDS, no HPV, no history of CC). I've had two paps (with a very kind OBGYN), both very painful, and have started my own treatment for vaginismus using a well respected program. Unless my OBGYN has clear and persuasive reasons, I will not have another pap smear or exam until I'm ready for one or think that it's necessary. Scare tactics and the ignorance of most women on this issue (and don't get me started on pregnancy interventions) is outrageous in the U.S.
—Guest Rachel

Im scared every time i go in

im 17 and on birth control , so far it hasent been required for me to get on but im petrified every time i go in , im terrified of medical care of almost ever kind an i refuse to get one done unless im having pain and think something needs to be checked out , i hate going to my ob/gyn more than any doctor (and ive been lied to by all of them , both psychological and medical doctor ) but every time i walk into this doctor she treats me like i sleep around alot and im at high risk of stds and stis cause im young , ive had one partner for 3 years , and im still with him... i think that this screening stuff is important but there are better ways to do it, i only take birth control cause im terrified of babies , i dont feel i should be required to take this test , not to mention any tissue damage can cause cancer ... dosent that make it possible for pap exams to cause cancer ?
—Guest liz

Hell NO!

I had one done a few months ago. I was trying to do the responsible thing, but ended up with crying spells weeks later. Since then I threw my birth control away with only 3 weeks of use and refuse to go back for a refill or anything. No it's not fair to require them..........I personally have been tramatized and I know I'm not the only one.
—Guest Guest

Make a complaint...

The law says that informed consent is required for all cancer screening. Cancer screening can never be a clinical requirement for anything, so if you were coerced into the test to get the Pill, IMO, you have not consented at all. I'd be getting some legal advice. You can also, get the Pill online with no script. Women should always remember they have a right to say no and get up and leave, make a formal complaint and then look for a decent doctor, someone who'll respect your legal rights. Someone who has never been sexually active (no genital contact) should be excluded from pap testing. I'd sack a doctor who treated their patients in this manner. Now we know that only about 5% of women aged 30 to 60 are HPV+ and at risk, these will be the only women to be offered pap testing under the new Dutch program and women can test themselves for HPV Ann, head over to Blogcritics and Unnecessary Pap Tests, almost 10,000 posts and many from women who've been traumatized by medical coercion.
—Guest EEB (Aust)

Make a complaint...

The law says that informed consent is required for all cancer screening. Cancer screening can never be a clinical requirement for anything, so if you were coerced into the test to get the Pill, IMO, you have not consented at all. I'd be getting some legal advice. You can also, get the Pill online with no script. Women should always remember they have a right to say no and get up and leave, make a formal complaint and then look for a decent doctor, someone who'll respect your legal rights. Someone who has never been sexually active (no genital contact) should be excluded from pap testing. I'd sack a doctor who treated their patients in this manner. Now we know that only about 5% of women aged 30 to 60 are HPV+ and at risk, these will be the only women to be offered pap testing under the new Dutch program and women can test themselves for HPV Ann, head over to Blogcritics and Unnecessary Pap Tests, almost 10,000 posts and many from women who've been traumatized by medical coercion.
—Guest EEB (Aust)

action should be taken

I am sorry but there is no need to check my vagina for cancer when all I am trying to do ia not have children. There are way too many people on this earth and birth control is needed. I also don't need my breasts to be touched to be able to take birth control. I should have the right to take this medicine after a certain age with out this stupid check up. Pap smears are not good for you especially this frequent. The only thing that should be done is an STD test every time for getting birth control renewed. If I want to take the pill then that's my choice along with the side affects that come with it. Has anyone thought that just maybe I know what could happen to me but I just don't give a damn. Now why should I be forced when someone else wants to know as that is not their business. We are Americans and should get the choice over our bodies. Funny how they sell alcohol which is a poison and tobacco that kills people every day. Yet do you have to have a check up for these things?? No!
—Guest individual rights

Forced

I was forced to do a pap smear. I have never had sex before and use birth control only to balance hormones, acne etc. It hurt so bad I was asked if I wanted to take valium and come back. The doctor insisted on completing the test. I was in pain for weeks. I lost ten pounds in the following month because I was so upset (making me under 100lbs at 5'4".) It is five months later and I am still upset and depressed over being forced to do that cancer screening test. I have made up my mind to never again in my life do another pap smear or pelvic exam. I will be avoiding the doctor as much as possible. I have looked into home births already. If I do get pregnant that is what I am planning. I am scared of all the unnecessary exams and how doctors cut women up in the hospital. The rate of c- sections and other procedures that are harmful to both women and babies are really high in the US. This is only because doctors get paid more for them. Read "Our Bodies Our Selves" it talks about this.
—Guest Ann

unwanted tests and exams

it should be up to the woman if she wants a well woman exam or not and any test that goes with it its our choice not the doctors
—Guest linna

Pissed off

I refuse a pap test (useless, inaccurate waste of time) the doctor did one anyway. He'll be lucky if I don't sue. No means NO! Its doesn't mean I'm doing it anyway cause I'm the doctor and I know best because the MD after your name does NOT mean you know best.
—Guest mjd

I think many of us are embarrassed

And yes, it's embarrassing to be laying there like that. But if you're taking your clothes off for a guy you should be able to take you clothes off for a doctor. Besides, don't you want to know that everything is in working order? And no matter how careful you are there is always a chance you'll get pregnant.
—Guest Jenny J

What about blood testing

There is a blood test available that screens for cervical cancer, CSA cervical screening antigen. It was patented around 2004, but so far, it is not available in the USA. I hear this test is reliable. I am unsure why this test is not being used in America. Does anyone know anything about this. I believe other countries use this test. ***From Your Guide: As best as I can tell, this test is still in the very early evaluation stages. It has not yet been approved for use in the U.S.***
—Guest Liz

Doctors are paid to lie

In Australia, doctors are paid extra for pushing women into pap smears. It is called Service Incentive Payment (SIP-cervical) and comes under Medicare Benefits Schedule (items 2497, 2501, 2503, 2504, 2506, 2507, 2509, 2598, 2600, 2603, 2606, 2610, 2613, 2616, 10995 and 10999). In other words, Australian government uses taxpayers' money for coercing women to have pap smears. Of course doctors are going to say that we need the stupid pap smears! It means more money for doctors. It's that simple!
—Guest Ruby

Fight back...

Lins, So sorry... It's awful to see the damage this testing causes and the way it devalues the lives and ruins the health of so many women...all for a rare cancer. It's crazy! Ethical screening does not have that effect, but this is something far more sinister - coercion is a very serious matter. If you can travel to Singapore or Amsterdam, the Delphi Screener is available - you could test yourself for HPV. if you're negative, you can test yourself a total of 5 times - at ages 30,35,40,50 & 60 - if you're negative and no longer sexually active or monogamous, you can forget all further testing. Look at the Delphi Bioscience website and send them an email - ask them the easiest way to get hold of the device. You DO have a right to the Pill with no exams - the only clinical requirements are your blood pressure and medical history. I'd go doctor shopping, get the Pill online or see your lawyer. Could your psychologist send them a letter, testing is clearly bad for your mental health?
—Guest Elizabeth (Aust)

CHOICE!!!

I am a survivor of childhood incest and I am emotionally incapacitated for at least 2 months due to this ridiculous test. I take the pill because of hormones that I need in order to function and an indescribably humiliated and ticked off at our system for pushing this upon us. I feel that I should be able to make this type of decision about my body and, more than that, my life in general! I would much rather get cancer (which is highly unlikely), die younger, and live a life where I do not lose 2-3 months of my life in misery by being forced to relive my childhood victimization. I believe I should have that choice.
—Guest Lins

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Reasons women avoid Pap smears: Is it fair to require them for birth control?

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