gynecologic speculum for pelvic exam

For decades, women have scheduled an annual pelvic exam as part of their preventive health care. Now, the US Preventive Services Task Force says maybe that’s not necessary.

Is a Pelvic Exam a Problem?

The expert panel did not say that pelvic exams would cause harm, but rather that they couldn’t find adequate evidence that routine screening exams in the absence of symptoms improve women’s health or help prolong their lives. This uncertainty only applies to women who have no symptoms such as pain or bleeding and who are not pregnant. In such cases, a pelvic exam is clearly helpful for making a diagnosis and planning treatment.

The confusion the task force expressed about pelvic exams did not extend to PAP smears to detect cervical cancer. The experts are clear on the benefits of that screening. Most women need such screening every three years rather than annually, though. Women are urged to talk with their doctors about whether they need an annual pelvic exam.


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  1. Francine

    I do think it is necessary. I had horrible back pain that caused sciatica, and I suffered for at least two years. I went back and forth to the orthopedic doctor and physical therapy.

    I did not have an X-ray because I was diagnosed with sciatica. I went to have a routine check up, and the doctor found a mass in my uterus during the pelvic exam. I had a huge fibroid that was sitting on my sciatic nerve.

    I had surgery to remove it, and my back was fine. So, that is one reason to be safe rather than sorry. The pelvic is done to look for tumors or growths. By eliminating the pelvic, early detection of a problem can be missed.

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