Most women are accustomed to the uncomfortable ritual of having a yearly pelvic examination. But a new guideline from the American College of Physicians (ACP) suggests it may be time to make the procedure a thing of the past for women without any symptoms of concern (Qaseem A et al. Ann Intern Med. 2014;161:67-72). The recommendation does not apply to pregnant women or those who have signs of illness.
Women should continue to receive routine cervical cancer screening, according to the ACP, but the procedure should include only visual inspection and swabbing of the cervix, not a physical evaluation of the uterus. The ACP cautioned, however, that a pelvic examination is advisable for women who have vaginal discharge, abnormal bleeding, pain, urinary difficulties, or sexual dysfunction.