A pelvic exam has long been the standard in a woman’s annual wellness visit. Now one medical group says the harms outweigh the benefits. The American College of Physicians is recommending against pelvic exams for most women.
The 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 women who don’t show any symptoms.
Many gynecologists say pelvic exams can help detect common problems like uterine fibroids and endometriosis and they'll still perform them, despite the new recommendation.
In response to the new guideline, The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says there’s no evidence to support or refute annual pelvic exams for low-risk patients and that the decision should be between the doctor and patient.
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