New App for Birth Control Pills: No Humiliating Exams

gynoPlanned Parenthood is working on a new app that will enable women to purchase birth control prescriptions without needing to visit a doctor.  The app will enable women to converse online with a nurse practitioner and obtain mail-order birth control pills.  The app will be available in Washington and Minnesota but the hope is to make it available nationwide.

From the new app article in the Seattle Times:

Chris Charbonneau, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest:  “People are sexually active for six to nine months before they get a really reliable birth-control method.” . . . “You remember back in the day, we thought we needed a pelvic exam and 37 other things in order to get birth-control pills,” Charbonneau says . . . All it really did was convince a lot of women that birth control had something to do with having a pelvic exam, she says. In fact, the only relevant test is blood pressure to make sure it’s not high, she says, a number the medical provider will ask for. In most communities, blood-pressure readings are available at drugstores and community centers. “When we actually took ourselves through the discipline of figuring out exactly what’s safe and what’s not safe, in the bricks-and-mortar world we decided long ago we didn’t have to do a pelvic exam,” Charbonneau says, and it didn’t make sense to add requirements for the online world.

Pelvic exams impose an unnecessary hurdle to health care that some women find unacceptable, humiliating and traumatic.  Women may be reluctant to visit doctors for birth control pills due to the pelvic exam requirement that some health care providers still insist on. In fact, a recent poll on this site indicates that roughly 84 percent of respondents have stopped going to doctors due to pap test coercion.

The World Health Organization (WHO), American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), and other health leaders have declared that a pelvic exam/pap test is not medically necessary for birth control pills. ACOG notes that “half of all pregnancies in the United States are unintended”.  ACOG specifies that “screening for cervical cancer or STIs is not medically required to provide hormonal contraception”.  However, even though the medically unnecessary exams may be a contributing factor in high rates of unintended pregnancy, many doctors still insist on examining women prior to granting prescriptions.

Some women have already found a way around the pelvic exam obstacle by ordering birth control prescriptions online, but the new app promises to provide an additional option.


  1. Very cool! Don’t know if that’ll happen or if it’ll catch on (I know New York & LA tend very heavily toward telling people what to do & are still, somewhat, trend-setters), but interesting. A potential problem, though: It allows for someone to gain fairly easy access to someone’s medical information for whatever purposes they cook up.

    Isn’t it odd? That instead of this just being over-the-counter, now there’s all kinds of angles & avenues to get these things that they should be able to get in the first place. All the ranting & raving about freedom & independance that I’ve heard in my life & all the talk about how things go in the Middle East (particularly with self-elective penetration & mangling of women’s parts).

  2. I read a few posts about this online. Some worrie that this will “discurage woman from exams.” and thin they go on to defind this implying it was to get “woman started on the pil” Like woman will be latter forced to have exams latter.

  3. I really hope that all Planned Parenthoods will get on board with this. I remember that when I approached them for the Pill in NYC about five years ago, they told me that they could only give me a six months’ supply – and then they would require a Pap, STD testing and a full bimanual exam before they would prescribe more, because “we need to know that you’re okay.” Of course I flipped them the finger, left and simply procured the BCP elsewhere. I also have a friend who was referred for colposcopy from PP in NYC – the letter they sent her looked as though it was intended for a nursery school child and simply said that colposcopy was a “special camera.” If PP is truly getting on board with this app, it will be a wonderful thing.

    • I hope they are true to there word and not just trying to suck more woman into taking the pill and thin being forced to have unrelated exams/pap smears to get more pills. the things I have read about this talk about american woman having so many unwanted pregnancys and this is supose to help that.

  4. This is planned parenthoods record sheet for a women coming in and asking for birth control. HOPE is hormonal option without pelvic exam. Onl they would push for other screenings on the sheet and ask why a women has not had a WWE (well woman exam) lately, other tests for STIs, screening for domestic violence and BMI etc. it is not just about preventing unwanted pregnancies or providing the pill for women who want it.

    Click to access HOPE_Visit_Form.pdf

    • I wonder what the hidden agenda is with all that domestic violence stuff… maybe it is a convenient reason to separate women from their partners when they are at the doctor’s?

    • Yeah, the Planned Parenhood I went to supposedly had HOPE. They just START you on the pill, they don’t promise they will keep giving it to you…

      • I’ve heard that a fair bit over the years, PP/HOPE starts you on the Pill and then the pressure starts, I suppose they think they’ve got their claws into you…coax women through the door, tell them what they want to hear, and then push them into “well-woman” exams. (of course, they are as far away from wellness exams as we are from Mars)
        Incredible that things that were never clinical requirements for the Pill have been protected for so long; contraception should be freely available, not used to manipulate and use women and expose them to avoidable health and life risks. I’ve always considered it assault, the fact so many are happy with that arrangement is a shameful reflection on the medical profession. (and others) Brainwashing can blur the lines so assault can look like medical care or thoroughness. That’s why the medical profession is in a unique position to harm and take advantage, so the highest ethical standards should prevail. There is no point talking about ethics and informed consent, when assault is the preferred way to “handle” women.

      • Those are my thoughts also:
        the new app will just enable the Planned Parenthood to catch more women with the promise of easily-obtainable contraception pills, and then start pressuring them into all sorts of screening, invasive tests and unnecessary exams. They know very well that it is very unhealthy to start taking hormonal pills, then stop if the woman can’t get a script renewal, then shop around until she finds a decent doctor, then start the pills again…

        So the woman will either agree to the tests and exams in order to keep her script uninterrupted, or will wreck a havoc with her taking hormonal pills irregularly, which may easily will lead to abnormalities in cervix epithelium and other tissues, and so she will end up with an “abnormal” pap, colposcopy or “treatment”.

        More business for the medical establishment in either case!

  5. I really think its a way to suck woman in that dont waqnt exams thin rip the pill from them when they refuse paps/exams. it like they are trying to fish for woman who dont go for paps. also planed parent hood seems like they are doing society a faver by std screening woman like thats there job. it erks me. the attitude.

  6. You know, I tend to wonder if they fuck around with the medication to cause problems. Maybe there’d be some weird conspiracy to make the pills somewhat jacked-up or something so that it causes a problem that a woman would maybe think “Oh, I need to see someone for this to get fixed.” Of course, this more & more works out to be a bad idea with anything- not just things that are female specific.

    I know that’s comes off a little paranoid, but so many things don’t work like it’s supposed to in this country- it gets one to wondering “Maybe it IS working like it’s supposed to, just not like it’s advertised.”

    • The thing is, I don’t think a lot of them have in house pharmacies. They’re sending patients to regular pharmacies to fill their scrips. Plus if the pills or other contraception fail they’re looking at providing abortions to a lot of patients, and given the unhealthy climate in America regarding that procedure, a lot of PPs can’t offer it. Nor does PP offer prenatal care. Whatever else they’re doing, it isn’t in their best interests to see their patients get knocked up from faulty birth control.

      I’d be much more inclined to believe that PP does whatever it can to coerce women into paps, pelvics and other unnecessary exams…whether that is by withholding pills until the women acquiesce, or scaring them, or being far too aggressive in recommending colposcopy and LEEP…just like other gyns. Planned Parenthood serves a lot of girls and women who really don’t have any other options for care and might not be very well informed. And their tactics can easily back their patients into the wall, without any illegal medication tampering on their part.

      • And it is a damned shame, because in theory, the idea of a place for women to get low cost or free contraception, be tested for STDs without judgment, obtain plan B and get safe and legal abortions is a wonderful concept. Too bad PP attaches unnecessary strings to that. Some PPs offer services to men some days…i am damn sure they don’t require the lads to get internal exams to get their condoms.

  7. Here’s a funny parody of men having to jump through hoops to access condoms, which highlights the ongoing double standard, abuse and humiliation that most women have to face to access safe birth control.
    If Buying Condoms Was Like Buying Birth Control:

    • It really makes me angry what woman in this country and some others are expected to go thru to get birth control. Its so wrong. The thing is so many think exams are a wonderdul thing and there nothing wrong with this . I cant belive more pple dont see it for what it is.

  8. I’m very disgusted at a article that I read. “Planed parenthood makes it easier to get the pill.” What a woman from pp had to say blew me away. The nerve of this woman I swear. “Woman are smart enough to know pap smears are good for there health.” While we have them in front of us , we bomdard them with information she said. Most of them, they come back for there health care.” So pp uses hope to try to trap those who don’t want paps and gyn exams. So she’s saying woman who are smart get paps. wth. Theres so much wrong with those staments.

    • Sounds like a fairly predatory way of doing things. I guess the spider’s tactics are the most comparable to this situation. Someone goes to a place to get something that is hard to obtain on personal initiative & they take the opportunity to at least try to get someone into an invasive & potentially dangerous situation. It’s like trapping someone.

      I know this is going to sound like something from the 50s, but there are women on Earth that just need to have their mouths slapped shut! There’s plenty of men out there that this would also apply to, but it seems like the women feel like they have an open option to act however they want to other women. Like they live in a mobile “that doesn’t count” zone. I don’t get how an abusive female, however cerebral her tactics, is anything but a direct threat. Even IF they felt like this is doing someone a service, altruism doesn’t generate ownership. The way they seem to get arrogant & nasty with people, you’d think they are irreplaceable. Supposing one of them dies in a car wreck or takes an attitude with someone that’s just at the end of their nerves? These people would need to be replaced.

  9. Just looked at that other petition & it seems they only need 199 more signatures (for what, I don’t know). Thing is, it’s not the most immediate link that comes up.

    Sue, maybe you can post it as a separate topic? That way when someone looks up the general subject, they’d be more likely to hit the link from here.

    I really think it would need to boil down to a physical fight to do anything like that, since it’s something that medical personnel seem to be very stubborn about. Just like if someone was to physically pounce on someone & try to do the same things to them, it would be a situation where they’d have to be fought off.

    Another thing is that medical personnel seem to feel quite oppressed when they are denied access to someone’s parts & it gets very hard to argue that something is a wrongdoing even if the one doing it isn’t claiming any culpability. It’s hard to argue that anything is a detriment/attack/wrongdoing at a certain point, since language has to connect to something at some point & there’s no way to say anything so that someone else can’t lie or twist your words on their own- so there’s no way to ultimately define anything. Doesn’t mean the situation’s not real, though.

  10. I have never heard of this, or of it being offered to anyone that I know, very cheap too!
    The price of an innovative device which allows women to give themselves a contraceptive jab has been cut. The long-acting progesterone-based contraceptive, which provides contraceptive cover for three months at a time, is licensed for use by the NHS in the UK – but Pfizer admits that uptake here has been “modest”.

    Contraceptive gel for men in development, still a long way off, I’ll bet the medical profession and other vested interests are in no hurry to see men taking more responsibility for birth control!

    I’ve looked at a couple of studies over the years that showed many “unscreened” women are in relationships that rely on condoms – that means no need for the pill consult, IUD inserts/follow up, implants etc. It also means these women can better protect themselves from Pap test pressure.

    I’ve never asked for the Pill so was able to avoid a lot of the drama and, of course, coercion was out. I know some US doctors threaten to withhold all non-emergency medical care if a woman refuses screening and in the UK some GPs threaten to remove the non-compliant woman from their records, in other words, sacking the patient.
    As far as I know, these tactics were not used here.
    I’d be surprised if these tactics are still being used by GPs in the UK, they’d have to pick their patients carefully, women are far more informed these days, especially those who question this testing and the aggressive and patronising approach taken by these programs. (and their supporters) Dirty tactics are much more likely to see you the subject of a complaint.
    Brick by brick, the oppressive regime is crumbling…good!

    • Yep. And doctors can no longer hide behind the “it’s mandatory” or “but, you’re due” nonsense because more and more women are not just aware of the limitations of screening, but of their rights as well. They know they are not “required” to submit because the overwhelming body of law is on their side. Even the new GDPR places some restrictions on the processing of data etc. that patients can challenge.
      The GPs really have to pick their fights carefully these days plus one heated debate with an informed woman might make them think twice about trying the same thing with other female patients.

  12. I suspect that’s also the reason some GPs want women to start taking the Pill, rather than relying on condoms, they’ll say it’s safer, the Pill is more reliable, I’ve heard that some will say things like, “your partner will get sick of using condoms”…”men don’t like using condoms” etc.
    Of course, women on the Pill are at the mercy of the system, the need for a repeat script puts you back in the consult room every 6 months to a year and apart from pressure to screen or misleading the woman by saying, “it’s required for the Pill”…they may face coercion.
    That risk is reduced these days now that many women can access the Pill on line or at the pharmacy.

    • I bet a lot of these couples were using condoms deliberately to avoid screening intrusion and I don’t blame them.
      Morally reprehensible that the doctors were interfering in these women’s relationships by insinuating that the partner might eventually leave them for having to wear condoms indefinitely! A bit like those nurses telling women to screen as their partners might be unfaithful to them! Can you imagine the resentment this might have caused women to feel towards their boyfriends/ husbands on the account of busybody nurses?!
      I bet they hated the lack of access to unscreened using condoms!

  13. It’s definitely why the Pill was out for me, I could see women around me being abused, it was blatant abuse, I never believed it was medical care because the “requirements” changed depending on the age and attractiveness of the woman. Almost all GPs were males…when I would have been looking for the Pill. I thought things might improve with more women moving into the profession but I was disappointed to see, in the main, the same attitudes.
    Not surprising when you consider these attitudes start early in medical school and women starting their medical courses would already have been exposed to the aggressive “ women must screen” message.

    So I studied the Billing’s Method, by the time it was possible to get the pill online or I could have picked it up overseas, I travelled a lot with my job, I didn’t even consider it, I would have felt less in control.
    I find it telling that some GPs are so concerned about men using condoms long term but think nothing of recommending IUDs!

  14. Snap Elizabeth and what horrified me even more was when I went to the doctor and asked for anything non HRT for sweats she tried to persuade me very hard to take HRT…no WAY! I left with clonidine which seems to be helping…. of course I guess if I’d taken HRT we’d have had a discussion about screening too…

    • Hi Kat
      Oh, yes, the HRT consult is also used to push Pap testing (now it would be hpv testing here) and breast screening. Bowel screening might be mentioned in passing…very low key in comparison to the strident approach with women’s screening tests.
      I decided not to use HRT for that and other reasons, I had a few uncomfortable years but it was manageable. I tried to focus on the fact menopause is perfectly normal, like menstruation…so often normal things for females are viewed as threats, things that must be medically managed.
      It’s sad that some asymptomatic women need a medical exam or test every year or so to reassure them all is well/normal…instead of assuming they’re well and normal.
      I’ve always viewed my asymptomatic body as well and normal, my female ancestors did that and lived long and healthy lives…no Pap tests, no routine pelvic exams, no routine breast exams, no breast screening.
      These women certainly didn’t live their lives worrying about rare cancers – they focused on life, not on illness…and they didn’t live their lives in fear or believe their body was out to kill them. We really need to get back to that…having confidence in the female body.
      It horrifies me that some women have treatment for stage 0 cancer!

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