Smart Woman: Pelvic Exam

Smart Woman: Pelvic Exam

A pelvic exam has been a standard part of a woman's annual wellness visit. Now, one medical group says the harms outweigh the benefits.
Amy Yee just had her annual exam.

"It was pretty easy, smooth, basic," says Amy. "She did the pelvic exam, a swab, a pap smear."

Now, the American College of Physicians is recommending against pelvic exams for most women.

The new guideline says a pelvic exam  "rarely detects important disease and does not reduce mortality and is associated with discomfort for many women, false positive and negative examinations, and extra cost."

The guideline applies to women who are not pregnant, those who are at average risk for cancer and those who don't show any symptoms.

Many gynecologists like Dr. Taraneh Shirazianat Mount Sinai Hospital in New York say pelvic exams can help detect common problems like uterine fibroids and endometriosis. Dr. Taraneh Shirazianat will still perform them, despite the new recommendation.

Dr. Taraneh Shirazian says, "For the vast majority of women that I've seen, they don't express any you know large issue with having the exam performed. And rarely are very many grateful to have an assessment of the uterus and ovaries done."

Amy Yee agrees and wants to keep getting the exam for the reassurance it provides.

In response to the new guideline, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists say there's no evidence to support or refute annual pelvic exams for low-risk patients and the decision should be between the doctor and the patient.

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