Breaking down recommendation to discontinue routine pelvic exams

News this week that routine annual pelvic exams for healthy women may not be necessary is undoubtedly causing confusion for women across the country.

As The Los Angeles Times reported on Monday:

The routine pelvic exam endured by healthy women at their physician’s office is a yearly ritual that frequently produces pain, anxiety and embarrassment in return for no documented benefit, and it should be discontinued, an influential physicians group has concluded.

In a new practice recommendation issued Monday, the American College of Physicians said the visual and manual examination of a woman’s reproductive organs is not an effective way to detect gynecological cancers, venereal or pelvic inflammatory disease or bacterial infections.

But Kamilia Smith, M.D.,  an obstetrician/gynecologist on the medical staff at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas, noted the recommendation is aimed at women who are at “average risk for things like ovarian, uterine and cervical cancer,” she said in an interview Tuesday with WFAA-TV (Channel 8).

Smith told WFAA’s Janet St. James that women should not take the recommendation to mean that they should discontinue annual visits with their gynecologist.

“Should you go see your OB/GYN every year and the answer is yes,” Smith said.


About the author

Scott Goldstein
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Scott is a former Dallas newspaper reporter. His father and two brothers are doctors, so healthcare is his family business.

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Breaking down recommendation to discontinue routine pelvic exams