ACOG Statement on USPSTF Draft Recommendations on Pelvic Exams

June 28, 2016

Washington, DC – Thomas Gellhaus, MD, President of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), released the following statement regarding the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) draft recommendation statement on pelvic examinations:

"As the nation's leading group of physicians providing health care for women, ACOG stresses that women should see their ob-gyns at least once a year. In addition to the screenings, evaluations and counseling that clinicians can provide, the annual well-woman visit is an opportunity for the patient and her ob-gyn to discuss whether a pelvic examination is appropriate for her. ACOG promotes shared communication and decision making between the patient and the physician regarding pelvic examinations.

"The USPSTF’s draft recommendation statement concludes that there is not enough evidence to determine the benefits or harms of performing screening pelvic exams in asymptomatic, non-pregnant adult women for four specific conditions: ovarian cancer, bacterial vaginosis, genital herpes and trichomoniasis.

"ACOG is reviewing the USPSTF’s draft recommendation statement and the evidence upon which it is based to assess whether there is a need to update its guidance on the routine pelvic examination. ACOG recommends annual pelvic examinations for patients 21 years of age or older. However, the College recognizes that this recommendation is based on expert opinion, and limitations of the internal pelvic examination for screening should be recognized. 
"Notably, there are many women who are likely to benefit from a pelvic exam. For example, women who report or exhibit symptoms suggestive of female genital tract problems, menstrual disorders, vaginal discharge, incontinence, infertility or pelvic pain should receive a pelvic examination.”

Read more on ACOG's Well-Woman Recommendations.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (The College), a 501(c)(3) organization, is the nation’s leading group of physicians providing health care for women. As a private, voluntary, nonprofit membership organization of more than 57,000 members, The College strongly advocates for quality health care for women, maintains the highest standards of clinical practice and continuing education of its members, promotes patient education, and increases awareness among its members and the public of the changing issues facing women’s health care. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), a 501(c)(6) organization, is its companion organization.

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