The Debated Necessity of Pelvic Exams

On Monday, the American College of Physicians claimed that visual and manual examination of women’s reproductive organs is not effective in detecting cancers, inflammatory disease or bacterial infections. This, combined with the report that 60% of women experience pain and discomfort during routine pelvic exams has led to the recommendation by the group that the practice should be discontinued.

The pelvic examination has held a prominent place in women’s health for many decades and has come to be more of a ritual than an evidence-based practice,” according to Dr. George F. Sawaya and Dr. Vanessa Jacoby.

However, these recommendations are not entirely supported. In a piece written by Joann Symons published by The Washington Post, she details her experience with pelvic exams and how a properly conducted exam spared her from ovarian cancer. She argues while the exam may cause discomfort and may often result in no findings, the routine practice may spare you from being the statistically 1 in 15,000 women who pass away from ovarian cancer every year.

Ovarian cancer is still considered one of the most aggressive and fatal forms of cancer, often due to its late detection. By continuing routine pelvic exams, women can make efforts to increase their chances of early detection should they have the disease.


Read more here- “Routine Pelvic Exams Should Be Discontinued, Physician Group Says,” (Melissa Healy, Los Angeles Times)

Read more here- “A Routine Pelvic Exam Saved my Life. Physicians Shouldn’t Stop Doing Them,” (Joann Symons, The Washington Post)

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Olivia is a graduate of Villanova University where she studied Economics and History, minoring in Gender and Women's Studies. She also has experience working with federal legislatures on health care policy, women's issues, and Internet safety.


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