Yale Health

Frequently Asked Questions

At what age should I start seeing a gynecologist?

A woman should have her first gynecological exam when she anticipates becoming sexually active or by age 21. We do encourage you to consult with your primary care clinician before becoming sexually active.

What does a gynecologic exam consist of and what is a Pap Test?

The examination will include both breast and pelvic exams – neither is painful and both can be completed quickly.

During the pelvic exam, a laboratory screening called a Pap Test may be done. This involves brushing small cell samples from the cervix (the opening at the top of the vagina) placing the sample on a slide and sending it to a specialized lab for review. Exams are performed by physicians, certified nurse midwives, and advanced practice registered nurses.

How soon can I take a pregnancy test?

You may take a home pregnancy test or come to the Ob/Gyn Department and request a pregnancy test after one missed period.

How can I get a pregnancy test?

We recommend that you take a home pregnancy test (available in food markets and pharmacies); these tests are very accurate. If you have any doubt or concerns, call or come into the Ob/Gyn Department or Student Health during regular business hours to request a urine pregnancy test. There is a lab in our building for your convenience.

Your confidential results are usually available the following day by 4:30 pm. Please contact your ordering clinician if you need any additional assistance when you get the results of your pregnancy test.

I have a positive home pregnancy test. What should I do?

If you become pregnant, or worry that you have become pregnant, the best thing to do is to call Ob/Gyn at 203-432-0222 and ask to speak with a nurse, who can offer some immediate advice and can also set up an appointment with a clinician for a more extensive conversation, testing, and an examination.

    1. If you are pregnant, you will have choices to make; you will receive whatever support you need.  

    2. If you choose to continue a pregnancy, you will be able to receive prenatal and obstetrics care through Yale Health (if you are a member or a student with Hospitalization/ Specialty Care coverage).  Otherwise, if you have alternate hospitalization insurance, you will have to get details from that company about your options for care. 

    3. If you choose to end a pregnancy, Yale Health can arrange the referral for a termination procedure.  This is covered for all Yale Health members and all Yale students with no copay required. (For students it is part of Yale Health Basic coverage.)

If you plan to register for prenatal care, please visit our Obstetrics/Prenatal Patient information page.

I am pregnant and traveling out of the area, will I be covered if I go into labor?

Starting from four weeks before your due date, or earlier if you are advised by your Yale Health clinician not to travel, charges associated with hospital admission will only be covered at Yale-Hew Haven Hospital.

What is a mammogram?

A mammogram is a safe test to screen for breast cancer, which uses a low-dose x-ray machine to take pictures of a woman's breasts. Mammograms allow radiologists to look for breast lumps and changes in breast tissue. They can show small lumps or growths that may not be felt during a clinical breast exam.

Do you offer on-site mammography or breast ultrasound exams?

No.  Yale Health does not offer on-site mammography or breast ultrasound exams at the Yale Health Center at 55 Lock Street.

Yale Health members may obtain screening mammograms by calling 203-688-1010 for any one of the following facilities:

  • Yale-New Haven Breast Center, Smilow Cancer Hospital, 35 Park Street, New Haven

  • North Haven Medical Center, 6 Devine St, North Haven  

  • Long Wharf Medical Center, 150 Sargent Drive, New Haven

  • Shoreline Medical Center, 111 Goose Lane, Guilford

  • Yale-New Haven Mammography Van, mobile van, multiple locations

How is a mammogram done?

The radiological technician places one breast at a time between two plastic plates, which press the breast to flatten it. You will feel pressure and possibly some discomfort for a few seconds. The flatter your breast is, the better the picture. Usually, two pictures are taken of each breast, one from the side and one from above. 3-D mammograms are available at The Breast Center at Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale-New Haven. A screening mammogram appointment takes about 30 minutes from start to finish.

How often should I get a mammogram?

You should talk to your primary care clinician about when to start and how often you should have a mammogram, current recommendations are:

  • Women 40 years and older: to be individualized based on the patient's and clinician's assessment of risk and benefit.
  • Women 50 years and older: every 1-2 years.

Several reputable organizations such as the American Cancer Society, US Preventive Health Task Force, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists make similar recommendations about the frequency of mammography.

Click here to see all of the Adult Preventive Guidelines.

Do I need a referral to get a mammogram?

Yale Health members do not need referrals for screening mammograms and may call The Breast Center at Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale-New Haven directly at 203-688-1010 to schedule an appointment. However, please give the mammography center your primary care clinician's or Ob/Gyn clinician's name so your results can be forwarded to them.  If Yale Health is not your primary insurance, please verify coverage and the need for a referral with your primary insurance company.         

All other breast imaging requires a referral.

Where can I make an appointment for a mammogram?

Yale Health members may obtain screening mammograms from the Yale-New Haven Breast Center at various  locations by calling 203-688-1010 to schedule an appointment.

Locations include:

  • Yale-New Haven Breast Center, Smilow Cancer Hospital, 35 Park Street, New Haven

  • North Haven Medical Center, 6 Devine St, North Haven  

  • Long Wharf Medical Center, 150 Sargent Drive, New Haven

  • Shoreline Medical Center, 111 Goose Lane, Guilford

  • Yale-New Haven Mammography Van, mobile van, multiple locations

How do I get ready for my mammogram?

When you make your appointment, you will be given instructions you may need to follow before you go. Some general guidelines include:

Before your mammogram, discuss any new findings or problems in your breasts with your primary care clinician or Ob/Gyn clinician. In addition, inform your clinician of any prior surgeries, hormone use, and family or personal history of breast cancer.

Make your appointment for one week after your period, when your breasts are less likely to be tender.

If you have never had a mammorgram through Yale-New Haven Breast Center, bring previous mammograms, breast sonograms, films, or discs and reports to your appointment so that they are available to the radiologist, who needs the prior information in order to make comparisons to your current mammogram.

Describe any breast symptoms or problems to the technologist performing the exam. Inform the technologist of your previous breast history.

Inform the technologist of the date of your last clinical breast exam and your menstrual cycle (if appropriate).

Wear a shirt and a separate bottom, rather than a dress. This way, you can undress from the waist up and leave other clothes on.

Avoid coffee, tea or caffeinated soft drinks for a few days, before a mammogram. Caffeine can cause breast tenderness.

Don't wear deodorant, perfume, lotion, or powder under your arms or on your breasts on the day of your appointment, as these can cause shadows on the mammogram.

If you have breast implants, be sure to tell your mammography facility when you make your appointment. You will need a technologist who is trained in x-raying patients with implants because breast implants can hide some tissue.

Is the mammogram going to hurt?

Adequate compression is necessary for the radiologist to see the breast tissue better. Compression of the breast also lowers the radiation dose. Women who have tender breasts may experience discomfort.

If you are afraid or nervous about feeling pain during your mammogram please discuss this with the technologist before the examination. The technologist will work with you to make you as comfortable as possible while still taking good-quality images.

Should I be worried about radiation dose from a mammogram?

Mammography involves a very low dose of radiation to the portion of the breast under exam. The dose is much lower than the natural level of radiation that every person receives from the environment during one year.

For example, the average mammogram (four views) has a typical effective radiation dose of 70 millirems (a measure of radiation dose equivalent).  As a comparison, the average person in the US receives a dose equivalent of 300 millirems per year from natural sources.

For more information, call the Ob/Gyn Department at 203-432-0222 with any questions or visit:

National Cancer Institute's Cancer Information Service

How will I get the results from my mammogram?

The Breast Center at Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale-New Haven will send you a letter with the results of your mammogram or you will be contacted if any follow-up care is needed with the results of your mammogram.

I am a new student on campus and I need my birth control pills. What should I do?

The easiest way to get your birth control pills is to have your prior clinician call the Yale Health Center Pharmacy directly at 203-432-0033 with your prescription details. Your prior clinician may also fax it directly to 203-436-4251.

The Ob/Gyn Department has reserved special appointments with our clinicians and nurses to assist you with obtaining your birth control prescriptions at Yale Health. These appointments are available Monday-Friday early in the semester for your convenience.

It is best if you can bring your current container or package that indicates your name, medication, date refilled, etc. to the appointment. This will assist in easy processing of your prescriptions. If you are unable to bring your birth control package or information, please make an appointment and try to bring as much information about your medical history as possible to that appointment.

When do I start taking my birth control pills?

You may start taking your birth control pills one of two ways:

  • start on the first day of your menstrual bleeding or
  • start on the first Sunday after your menstrual bleeding begins.

What do I do if I forget to take a birth control pill?

If you forget to take a pill, take it as soon as you remember. If you don’t remember until you take the next pill, then take both.

If you miss two or more birth control pills, it is best to call the Ob/Gyn Department at 203-432-0222 and ask to speak with a nurse as we can assist you in getting back on track without having to discontinue the cycle.  Note that you will need to use condoms for the rest of the cycle because ovulation is possible.

Being late with birth control pills may lead to break-through bleeding, bleeding prior to week four, or "placebo" week.  Break through bleeding does not indicate a lack of protection.

What if I want to stop taking birth control pills or switch to another form of birth control?

Before making any changes, call a nurse in the Ob/Gyn Department during regular business hours at 203-432-0222 or send a message to your clinician using MyChart. It may be possible to do this over the telephone and MyChart. You do not necessarily need an appointment.

Can other drugs that I am taking interfere with my birth control pills?

A small number of antibiotics and some other drugs may decrease the effectiveness of oral contraceptives. Should you have any questions about the drugs you are taking, please discuss them with your clinician or pharmacist. If they feel there may be a decrease in effectiveness, use some other form of back up protection while on the antibiotic and for an additional seven days.

I am a student and get my birth control prescriptions from an outside gynecologist. I ran out and need one month until I see my doctor. Can you help me?

Have your clinician call the Yale Health Pharmacy directly at 203-432-0033 or fax the prescription to 203-436-4251 to give you enough pills until your next visit.

If this is not possible, please call the Ob/Gyn Department at 203-432-0222 or visit MyChart and request a Quick Pill Refill Visit. Please bring the pill container or packet with you to the visit. We will do our best to accommodate you, however, please plan ahead.

Can I have a prescription written by an outside clinician filled by the Yale Health Pharmacy?

Yes.  If you have a prescription written by an outside clinician, you can either bring it in, have the clinician call 203-432-0033, or have the clinician fax the prescription to the pharmacy directly at 203-436-4251 (by law, faxed prescriptions can only be filled when faxed from a clinician's office directly).

You should call the pharmacy to confirm we received the fax from your clinician.  It's helpful if your clinician puts your date of birth on the prescription.

Please have your outside clinician refer to the Yale Health Drug List to ensure that your drug will be covered.

I have questions about my birth control pills. How can I communicate with my clinician?

If you have registered for a MyChart account, we encourage you to message the clinician's care team. If you do not have a MyChart account, but have had an appointment in the Ob/Gyn Department, we encourage you to register for a MyChart account. This is a secure, confidential messaging system that allows you to communicate directly with your clinical care team.

MyChart is for routine, non-urgent messages only. Please allow 24-48 hours for a response from your clinician.

When can I consider myself protected?

Choose a back up method of birth control such as a condom during the first seven days of pill use. If you start taking the pills on the first day of your cycle, a back up method is not necessary.

Keep in mind that birth control pills are a protection from pregnancy only. You should still use condoms to protect yourself from STIs.

How can I get more information about birth control?

Review information here: Birth Control Information.

Call to speak with a nurse in the Ob/Gyn Department at 203-432-0222.

How can I get emergency contraception (morning-after) pill?

Emergency contraception, also known as "Plan B", "One Step", "Next Choice", or "My Way", all commonly referred to as "the morning after pill" is available over the counter at the Yale Health Pharmacy as well as most local pharmacies. Emergency contraception might be effective up to 120 hours after unprotected intercourse, but is most effective when taken as soon as possible.

After hours, call Acute Care at 203-432-0123.

If you have questions about emergency contraception, you may call Ob/Gyn (203-432-0222) or Student Health (203-432-0312) if you are a Yale student and ask to speak with one of the nurses. All information is confidential.

If you are concerned about an experience that might have led to pregnancy, you might be concerned about sexually transmitted infections.  Click here to learn more about STI testing.

How can I arrange to continue my Depo Provera injections at Yale Health?

We can give you the Depo Provera injection on an appointment basis. Call the Ob/Gyn Department during regular business hours at 203-432-0222 or visit MyChart to make an appointment with a provider to discuss getting a prescription. If you are new to Yale Health and currently using Depo Provera you will need to provide written confirmation of the date of your last Depo Provera injection and, if possible, a copy of your most recent gynecologic exam and Pap findings. A Release of Health Information form is available at Yale Health to facilitate your request.

What other contraceptive methods are available?

In addition to the 28-day birth control pills, you can obtain the following:

Nuva Ring – A soft plastic ring containing estrogen & progesterone, which is inserted into the vagina where the hormone is absorbed through the vaginal mucosa. The method is 99% effective when used as directed and is based on a 28-day cycle like BCPs & Ortho Evra.

Depo Provera injection – A progesterone-only method, which is injected intramuscularly within the first five days of an established period. The method is immediately 99% effective when started in this manner. Injections are repeated every 11 to 13 weeks. Women on Depo Provera usually stop having periods. The menstrual cycle resumes when Depo Provera is discontinued.

Progesterone impant (Implanon/Nexanon) - inserted under the skin of your inner arm provides excellent protection for 3 years.

Intrauterine Device – IUDs are available for insertion. An IUD is a small, plastic device, which is put into the uterus to stop a woman from getting pregnant. A Paraguard or Copper IUD contains Copper. The other has the hormone levonorgestrel which is released slowly into the uterus, helping to prevent pregnancy. These types are called the Mirena or the Skyla. For every 100 women using the IUD, less than one per year will get pregnant.

Sterilization – Surgical sterilization is available for both men and women. This option should be discussed with your primary care clinician to determine if it best meets your needs.

Barrier Methods – Barrier methods include the diaphragm, the cervical cap and spermicides. Diaphragms and cervical caps require fitting by a clinician and a prescription. Barrier methods have few side effects, although some people may be allergic to latex or spermicides. The average one-year failure rate for the diaphragm ranges between 12 to 18%.

Xulane patch (formerly known as Ortho Evra) – A patch containing estrogen & progesterone, which is applied firmly to the skin. The hormone is absorbed through the skin and is 99% effective when used as directed.  It contains hormones that are released through the skin and into the bloodstream. The patch is used on a weekly 28-day cycle, similar to birth control pills.

Click here to find out more about birth control methods.

Am I covered for prescriptions as an enrolled student?

Students enrolled in Yale Health Hospitalization/Specialty Care coverage are covered.  Please call Member Services at 203-432-0246 or review the Yale Health Student Handbook to check on your individual coverage and benefits. 

Students with Yale Health Hospitalization/Specialty Coverage can receive free generic oral contraceptives at the Yale Health Pharmacy.

How do I refill my prescriptions?

You may call for refills via our automated telephone line at 203-432-0033 or use our online prescription refill request and proceed directly to the check-out window when your prescription has been filled. 

You may also request a refill at the check-in window of the Yale Health Pharmacy.  Please allow 24- 48 hours for routine refills.

Do I have refills left on my prescription?

The last line on your most recent prescription label tells you how many refills remain on your prescription to be filled by a certain date. A prescription is generally good for one year from the date it is written. Prescriptions for most controlled substances, such as narcotics, are good for up to six months from the date written.

How long will it take to get a prescription refilled at the Yale Health Pharmacy?

Please allow as much time as possible when requesting your refills. Generally, allow at least one full business day for processing, and longer prior to weekends and holidays. The time period just prior to Thanksgiving recess, December recess, spring break and the end of the semester are peak processing times in the pharmacy. You will need to allow at least two full business days to process requests at this time.

If you have not been seen in the department for routine exams within the last year, the clinician will typically request that you make an appointment before refilling your prescription. In this case, the clinician will give you enough medication to last until the date of your examination/appointment.


Do I have healthcare coverage when I am out of state?

Students: If you have taken Yale Health Hospitalization/Specialty Care coverage, you are covered outside of Connecticut for emergency care, acute care and pre-authorized short-term follow-up care. Please see the Terms of Coverage section of the Yale Health Student Handbook for details. If you have alternate insurance, you should check the specifics of that insurance.

Members: You are covered for emergency care when you are out-of-state.

An emergency medical condition is a sudden and severe condition, sickness or injury, including, but not limited to, severe pain, which would lead a prudent layperson including the parent or guardian of a minor child or the parent or guardian of a disabled individual possessing an average knowledge of medicine and health, to believe that failure to get immediate medical care could result in:

  • Placing one’s health in serious jeopardy
  • Serious impairment to a bodily function(s)
  • Serious dysfunction to a body part(s) or organ(s); or
  • In the case of a pregnant woman, serious jeopardy to the health of the unborn child.