Are yearly pelvic exams needed? Major physicians group says no - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Are yearly pelvic exams needed? Major physicians group says no

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The American College Of Physicians says most healthy, non-pregnant women can skip the annual pelvic exam. This new recommendation comes from a group of 137,000 internal medicine physicians, the second largest physician group in the United States.

Dr. Beth Snowden, an OB-GYN at Henderson and Walton Women's Center, strongly disagrees. She believes the new recommendation might confuse patients and could lead to missed diagnoses.

“I think certainly, nobody enjoys having a pelvic exam or pap smear,” said Snowden. “It is embarrassing and it can produce anxiety but I feel like the benefit outweighs any harm."

The American College of Physician’s analysis states that the harms of the annual check, including anxiety, embarrassment and discomfort, outweigh the benefits and recommend the examination is skipped by most healthy non-pregnant women.

“I think it’s going to create a lot of confusion and perpetuate some misinformation and unfortunately, probably contribute to women not coming when they should be here,” continued Snowden.

Snowden offers an example of why she believes the exam is still needed.

“I had a patient just last week that we picked up a large fibroid that was completely asymptomatic and had come up very suddenly and so that raises a concern of a potential sarcoma and she was completely asymptomatic and we would not have known it was there if she didn't come in for her exam.”

Snowden wants to caution patients who now may skip an entire yearly visit with her doctor.

“All of it has to do with things we can pick up on an exam or that a patient might reveal to us after we are into an exam that they might not otherwise."

The study clearly states the recommendation to skip the pelvic exam does not apply to pap-smears.

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