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For Women, New Recommendations Challenge Status Quo

Monday, July 7, 2014 at 6:00 AM

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Dr. Rebecca Starck (Photo courtesy of Cleveland Clinic)

New recommendations say most women no longer need an annual pelvic exam. Ideastream Health Reporter Sarah Jane Tribble explains why the announcement is being met with mixed reviews.

The American College of Physicians recently said women who are healthy and low-risk for cancer can skip the annual pelvic exam. For many women, this was welcome news. 

No more annual trip to the doctor to endure a - drop your clothes - intrusive exam.

But not so fast.

Dr. Rebecca Starck chairs the Cleveland Clinic’s regional obstetrics and gynecology department.  She says the message should not be you can skip seeing your doctor each year.

“You still need an annual well-woman exam and your health care provider can help counsel you and educate you on which portion of the well woman exam will be done each year.” Starck said. 

Indeed, not all doctors will follow the ACP’s recommendations, Starck says. And she says that health care is so personal that it really is best for every individual to make a decision with their own physician. For her part, Starck plans to continue giving the annual pelvic exam.

“I still feel there is clinical value in doing a pelvic exam annually. Some studies are questioning what you’re going to find and is it going to save lives, I still think that there’s value in it,” Starck said.

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