• 54.4% of women are receiving potentially unnecessary pelvic exams
  • 3 in 4 women are given unnecessary pap smear tests
  • The study highlights the lack of compliance regarding the appropriate use of these tests

About 2.6 million young women aged 15-20, reportedly, received a pelvic exam in the previous year. However, less than 10% of them were either pregnant or were being treated for a sexually transmitted disease.

A new study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, reported that more than half of bimanual pelvic examinations given to young women in this age group were likely unnecessary.

The study also pointed out that 3 in 4 pap smear tests given to women in the same age group were likely unnecessary. Such procedures were not only unnecessary but were also reported to cost around $123 million every year.

"The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recognizes that no evidence supports routine speculum examination or BPE in healthy, asymptomatic women younger than 21 years and recommends that these examinations be performed only when medically indicated," Medscape Medical News quoted Jin Qin, ScD, of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia, and colleagues.

The findings of the study have revealed that, despite the recommendation, many young women without any discernable medical indication have been receiving potentially unnecessary BPE or Pap tests simply as a reflection of long-standing clinical practice.

Experts opined that the findings of the study also demonstrated the consequences faced by vulnerable populations when clinicians do not adhere to new guidelines.

The researchers analyzed data collected from 3410 women in the age group 15-20 who took part in the national survey of family growth in the period 2011-2017. They, then, extrapolated the results to estimate the nationwide statistics and found that 22.9% of young American women have been receiving pelvic exams in the previous year.

The authors highlighted the fact that more than 54.4% (1.4 million exams) were potentially unnecessary. They classified these pelvic exams as ‘potentially unnecessary’ if a woman was not pregnant, using an intrauterine device or was undergoing STI treatment in the past year or for any other related medical issue.

The findings of the study also conveyed the fact that the nation lacks compliance with the current professional guidelines pertaining to the appropriate use of pelvic examinations and pap smear tests.

More than half of pelvic exam and pap smear tests are potentiallyunnecessary, finds new study DarkoStojanovic , Pixabay