Do We Say Goodbye to Pelvic Exams?

Do We Say Goodbye to Pelvic Exams?

  • Posted Jul 30, 2014
  • Anele R. Manfredini, MD

American College of Physicians logo

After a review of studies conducted between 1946 and 2014, the The American College of Physicians (ACP) - which represents 137,000 internal medicine physicians and related s
pecialists - recently released new guidelines regarding an annual pelvic exam.

A pelvic exam consists of inspection of the external genitalia; speculum examination of the vagina and cervix; bimanual examination of the adnexa, uterus, ovaries and bladder; and sometimes rectal or rectovaginal examination.

Pap smears on the other hand is a method of cervical screening used to detect pre-cancerous and cancerous cells from the cervix  and endocervix.

The new guideline concluded that the risks posed by pelvic exams may outweigh the benefits for most healthy women since they may result in false positives, leading to unnecessary tests and procedures. Also the ACP states that the exam "rarely detects important disease and does not reduce mortality." Having a pelvic exam can cause women discomfort, anxiety, pain and additional medical costs.  Studies also showed little benefit in detecting ovarian cancer or other disorders.

As a result the ACP “recommends against performing screening pelvic examination in asymptomatic, non-pregnant, adult women” who have no elevated risk of cancer or other disease.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, however, immediately responded in favor of doctors’ continuing to perform routine pelvic screening on healthy women. That group “continues to firmly believe in the clinical value of pelvic examinations,” it said in a statement, which helps physicians to diagnose incontinence, sexual dysfunction, and allows them to explain a patient’s anatomy.

This topic is still controversial among different organizations, therefore, you should discuss with your primary care physician or gynecologist if having an annual pelvic exam, in addition to pap smears, is appropriate for you.

Dr. Anele Manfredini is a family physician who specializes in women’s health, and she practices at the Dorothy Mangurian Comprehensive Women’s Center. For a referral to Dr. Manfredini, please call 954-440-7606.


Add new comment

Plain text

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.

About Holy Cross Hospital

Holy Cross Hospital is a nonprofit, Catholic hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, dedicated to innovative, high quality and compassionate care. For nearly six decades, Holy Cross has continuously expanded its services to provide leading-edge care for their patients in Florida and for those from elsewhere in the United States. Holy Cross also offers an International Services program to ensure that patients from outside the U.S. receive the care they need.

Blog Categories

Blog Archive