Women’s Health

Last reviewed: 2/6/2023

Women's care is provided by excellent primary care providers, health promotion specialists, and advocates; all of whom are experienced in women’s health and are considerate of the sensitive nature of the visit. Our providers are attuned to the sexual, psychosocial, gynecologic, and body image needs that are part of providing comprehensive women’s health care.

Depending on the women’s health issue or service needs, students will be directed to schedule a visit with their primary care provider, their team's registered nurse, a health promotion specialist, or an advocate.

Some specific on-campus services are:

  • Periodic health (well woman) examinations
  • Birth control, including IUD insertion and contraceptive injections (e.g., Depo-Provera)
  • Pregnancy testing and evaluation
  • Pregnancy options counseling
  • Emergency contraception
  • Counseling for elective termination of pregnancy
  • Testing and treatment for STIs
  • Management of gynecologic concerns

Prenatal care is provided off-campus and covered by the Columbia Student Health Insurance plan.

    What Does a Well Woman Examination Include?

    • Examination of thyroid gland, neck, lungs, heart, breasts, abdomen, and skin
    • Cervical cancer screening (PAP smear)
    • Sexually transmitted infections (STI) testing
    • Prescription for contraception, if requested

    When Should I Get a Pap Smear?

    • Cervical cancer screening (Pap smear) should begin at age 21.
    • Women under age 21 who need contraception or STI screening may do so without having a cervical cancer screening exam.
    • Cervical cancer screening is recommended every three years for women age 21 to 29 who are healthy and have had normal exams in the past.
    • Women age 30 and older should speak with their provider about whether they should have cervical cancer screenings every five years.
    • Women with certain risk factors may need more frequent screening, including those who have HIV, are immunosuppressed, or have had abnormal cervical screening test results in the past.

    Birth Control and Contraception

    Columbia Health encourages students to learn more about birth control options by attending Sexual & Reproductive Health Drop-in Hours for a birth control education session. These sessions are designed for students who have never used birth control or are currently using birth control and wish to discuss other options.

    Pregnancy Testing and Management

    • Pregnancy Testing/Screening: No-cost pregnancy testing is available at Medical Services. To get tested, please call 212-854-7426 to schedule a nursing appointment. A urine sample will be collected.
    • Pregnancy Options: If you have an unplanned pregnancy, make an appointment with your primary care provider at Medical Services via the Patient Portal or by calling 212-854-7426 to discuss your options.
    • Prenatal Care: Once your pregnancy has been confirmed, we will provide you with a referral to an ob-gyn clinic. Then you will begin a routine schedule of medical visits with your obstetrician or nurse midwife.
    • Pregnancy Complications: Minor spotting or cramps may be normal in pregnancy. However, bleeding and severe cramping can be signs of complications. If you experience these symptoms during your pregnancy, it is important to contact your obstetrician. The obstetrics clinics at Columbia University Medical Center can schedule a same-day appointment if your condition warrants immediate attention.

    Emergency Contraception

    You or a partner may need emergency contraception if:

    • Sex was unplanned, unintended, or unwanted
    • Contraceptives were not used, failed, or were used incorrectly (missed birth control pills, late for contraceptive injection, condom broke or slipped off)
    • Diaphragm or IUD slipped out of place

    Where to find emergency contraception on campus

    Emergency contraception is available through Medical Services. Students can speak to a nurse or make a nursing appointment appointment by calling 212-854-7426. After-hours, call 212-854-7426 for medical advice.

    Students can also purchase emergency contraception via the vending machines found in the lobby of two undergraduate residence halls: John Jay Hall and Schapiro Hall

    Testing and Treatment for Sexually Transmitted Infections

    Columbia Health is committed to assisting students in learning about preventing sexually transmitted infections (STIs). To discuss STI questions, including prevention strategies, attend Sexual & Reproductive Health Drop-in Hours with Alice! Health Promotion.

    Testing and treatment for STIs is available through Medical Services. An STI evaluation will include a discussion with a healthcare provider about your concerns and possible symptoms, a physical examination, and testing as appropriate.