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Contraceptive Pearl: Language in the Exam Room

The language we use in the exam room should convey our respect for patients. Before discussing sensitive topics with patients, clinicians should take care to establish rapport. Supportive, non-judgmental, and caring words can allow patients to feel heard and understood. Inclusive phrasing makes no assumptions about sexual orientation or gender identity.

Attention to language is particularly important when performing a procedure, providing pelvic exams, miscarriage management, and options counseling. Below is a list of some common language we have heard and suggested alternatives.  If you have any examples you’d like to share, please send them to us!

Helpful Resources:


A Guide to Taking A Sexual History. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Updated March 14, 2014. Accessed October 4, 2018.

Sexual Health and Your Patients: A Provider’s Guide. National Coalition for Sexual Health website. Published 2016.  Accessed October 4, 2018.


The Reproductive Health Access Project does not accept funding from pharmaceutical companies. We do not promote specific brands of medication or contraception. The information in the Contraceptive Pearls is unbiased, based on science alone.

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