Women can skip unnecessary pelvic exams, says doctors organization

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A major doctors group says that annual pelvic exams aren't necessary. So should women skip this screening? Here are the pros and cons. (KABC)

A major doctors group says that annual pelvic exams aren't necessary. So should women skip this screening? Here are the pros and cons.

A new report from the American College of Physicians says women without any symptoms or complaints can skip the internal pelvic part of their gynecologic exams.

"What this study is saying is that women who have absolutely no symptoms, and have no complaints, and have no risk factors, probably don't benefit from doing an annual, routine internal exam," said Dr. Steven Rabin, Advanced Gynecology Solutions.

Dr. Rabin says women need to understand it's not the speculum exam or Pap smear under fire. What in question is the actual physical examination.

The American College of Physicians says pelvic exams can lead to pain, discomfort and anxiety in about a third of women and it can lead to false positives as well as unnecessary diagnostic procedures.

Dr. Rabin says the decision to do a pelvic exam or not should be one made between a patient and her doctor. And he feels it will be difficult for many doctors to eliminate pelvic exams since it makes more sense to be safe than sorry.

"Most of us have too many stories where somebody didn't have any symptoms and we find something that turns out to be a big deal, so I think this is going to be a piece of our routine that's going to be kind of hard to stop cold turkey," said Rabin.

These new recommendations are consistent with current guidelines issued by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and the Centers for Disease Control.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists still supports that the decision to perform pelvic exams or not should be between a woman and her doctor.


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