Pelvic Exams Unnecessary

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For many women, it’s a painful annual ritual that starts when they hit puberty. But now an influential American medical body says doctors should stop performing routine pelvic exams.

According to the American College of Physicians, there is no evidence that these exams are useful.. On the other hand, the procedure often provokes fear, anxiety and pain.

The American College of Physicians reviewed studies of the procedure and concluded that pelvic exams were not accurate for diagnosing ovarian cancer, which is very difficult to detect. And there was no data on whether these exams could benefit women with common benign conditions such as pelvic inflammatory disease, fibroids or warts.

Until about a decade ago, physicians used  pelvic exams to screen women for sexually transmitted infections and obtain cultures for testing. But now urine samples are usually used.

And a dozen studies have suggested that many women experience pain and discomfort, sometimes enough to discourage them from going to the doctor in the first place.

The college’s new guideline was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. It applies only to routine checkups for healthy women who are not pregnant and have no symptoms. Still the  American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists disagrees, and this body still recommends yearly  pelvic exams.
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