Choosing Wisely®

Pelvic Exam or Physical Exams to Prescribe Oral Contraceptive Medications

Recommendation

Do not require a pelvic exam or other physical exam to prescribe oral contraceptive medications.

  • Hormonal contraceptives are safe, effective, and well tolerated for most women. 
  • Data do not support the necessity of performing a pelvic or breast examination to prescribe oral contraceptive medications.
  • Hormonal contraception can be safely provided on the basis of medical history and blood pressure measurement.  

Sources
Felicia H. Stewart, MD; Cynthia C. Harper, PhD; Charlotte E. Ellertson, PhD; David A. Grimes, MD; George Sawaya, MD;    James Trussell, PhD. Clinical Breast and Pelvic Examination Requirements for Hormonal Contraception. JAMA.      2001;285(17):2232-2239. Accessible at: http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=193803(jama.jamanetwork.com).

Henderson JT, Sawaya GF, Blum M, Stratton L, Harper CC, Pelvic examinations and access to oral hormonal contraception.   Obstet Gynecol. 2010 Dec;116(6):1257-64.

Well-woman visit. Committee Opinion No. 534. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Obstet Gynecol 2012;120:421-4.

This recommendation is provided solely for informational purposes and is not intended as a substitute for consultation with a medical professional. Patients with any specific questions about this recommendation or their individual situation should consult their physician.

About Choosing Wisely®

The Choosing Wisely®(www.choosingwisely.org)  campaign was created as an initiative of the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) Foundation(www.abimfoundation.org) to improve health care quality. More than 50 specialty societies have identified commonly used tests or procedures within their specialties that are possibly overused.

Learn more about the AAFP support of the Choosing Wisely® campaign.