Too Many Pelvic Exams in America?

By: | Tags: | Comments: 0 | July 19th, 2013

Clinical Practice

Gynecologists Question Need For Routine Pelvic Exams.

The New York Times (4/29, Brody) reports in its “Well” health blog that a “growing number of experts are asking whether it’s necessary to” perform so many pelvic exams to women when they visit their gynecologist. An estimated 63.4 million pelvic exams are performed each year in America, which is too high according to Dr. Carolyn L. Westhoff, a gynecologist at Columbia University Medical Center. She says, “This not the case in other countries that get better results without doing routine pelvic exams.”

Dr. Westhoff and colleagues wrote in a January 2011 in The Journal of Women’s Health, “Frequent routine bimanual examinations may partly explain why U.S. rates of ovarian cystectomy and hysterectomy are more than twice as high as rates in European countries, where the use of the pelvic examination is limited to symptomatic women.” Dr. George F. Sawaya concurs with Westhoff, claiming the examinations “put patients in a perilous situation and then act like they’re rescuing them.”