A government task force says more studies are needed.
It's probably safe to say the pelvic exam is not your favorite part of your annual gyno visit. Now a government task force is saying this uncomfortable and invasive procedure may not be necessary, as long as you don't have any symptoms and aren't pregnant.
The United States Preventive Services Task Force issued a draft recommendation on Tuesday that stated there is "insufficient" evidence to determine whether the routine exam (which is performed an estimated 60 million times a year) is more helpful than harmful. The panel came to that conclusion after finding only eight studies that evaluated the accuracy of these exams in diagnosing medical conditions.
But it's important to understand that this isn't a recommendation against the exam, says task force member Maureen Phipps, MD, chairwoman of obstetrics and gynecology at Brown University’s Warren Alpert Medical School. “This is a recommendation to call for more research to figure out the benefits and harms associated with screening pelvic exams. That’s the big message here,” she told The New York Times.
In a statement issued yesterday, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists—which recommends an annual pelvic exam for women over 21—announced that it would review the draft recommendation and consider whether there is a need to update its guidelines.