What if you found out that yearly pelvic exam you dread, with all of its awkwardness and discomfort, was actually unnecessary?
According to some physicians, the lack of benefits of this procedure may mean that you don’t need to go through this traumatic experience anymore.
Recently the American College of Physicians has discouraged yearly pelvic exams for women who do not show any signs or history of issues. Their research is based on 52 studies which helped produce new guidelines for determining the usefulness of a yearly pelvic exam. In particular, the studies did not show that the exams were able to detect serious issues, and, in fact, often led to further unnecessary (and expensive) testing.
Some doctors believe that the absence of the exam would make women more willing and likely to visit their doctors, because of reduced anxiety over the exam. Other groups, however, such as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, still insist on annual pelvic exams beginning at age 21. However, it seems their strongest argument is still one of getting women to go to the doctor for a routine checkup, not necessarily to receive the pelvic exam.
Now that you know you have an option, it may be time to discuss this question with your doctor and decide if you would have a better overall health check experience without this invasive exam.