Reviewed by Melinda Ratini on May 19, 2016

Sources

http://www.acog.org/About-ACOG/News-Room/College-Statements-and-Advisories/2014/ACOG-Practice-Advisory-on-Annual-Pelvic-Examination-Recommendations. http://annals.org/article.aspx?articleid=1884537. http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2014/06/30/326703530/skip-the-stirrups-doctors-rethink-yearly-pelvic-exams. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/278985.php. http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/expert-panel-says-healthy-women-dont-need-yearly-pelvic-exam-201407027250.

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Video Transcript

There are new guidelines out about pelvic exams for women.

An expert panel from the American College of Physicians recommends that healthy,

low risk women without symptoms don’t need to have a pelvic exam every year.

They say the discomfort and distress pelvic exams can cause outweigh potential benefits.

Doctors use the exam to screen for ovarian and cervical cancer, infections, or other abnormalities.

However, they can also lead to false alarms that result in unnecessary tests or even operations.

Experts emphasized that pelvic exams are still necessary for any woman with symptoms or for those at higher risk.

You still need a Pap smear to screen for cervical cancer.

In general, women should have this done every 3- 5 years.

Not all doctors agree on the new pelvic exam guidelines.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists still recommends a yearly pelvic exam,

but suggests that be a decision between a woman and her doctor.

Changing guidelines are part of medical progress,

and when they seem confusing, don’t hesitate to talk to your health care provider.

For WebMD, I’m Dr. Michael Smith.