• Annual pelvic exams in women-are they necessary?- Dr. Stanley Franklin

    A recent article in the journal published by the American College of Physicians argued that annual pelvic examinations in asymptomatic, nonpregnant adult women were not recommended. They claimed that there were minimal benefits  in detecting cervical cancer, pelvic inflammatory disease, and ovarian cancer. They also argued that over diagnosis, overtreatment, diagnostic procedure harm, fear, anxiety, embarrassment, pain, and discomfort may occur. Well, this may be true-but should you avoid your gynecologist because it is an unpleasant experience? No one likes going to the dentist, but short term pain makes for a long term beautiful smile. Have you not met people who when they smile, you notice their bad or crooked teeth? That’s all you can think about when they talk-and you ask  yourself, why doesn’t this person fix something that’s so visible and embarrassing to anyone they meet? There are a lot of unpleasant things that we all have to do, but avoiding it may create disastrous problems for your health and quality of life later.

    So what should you do? First of all, find a good doc. Dig your well before your thirsty. It’s not always as easy as it seems. Do your research-investigate your gynecologist’s background before you see him or her. Make several appointments with 2 or 3 new gynecologists and see if you both “click”; be sure they are competent, affable, available, agreeable, and most importantly listen without interrupting. If you get the feeling that you are being rushed and you have no time to ask questions, leave and seek someone else! Be choosey about your body. After all, no one cares about your precious health any more than you do-so demand quality time with your doctor and you will get it!

    A good doctor obviously should and does more than a pelvic exam and a Pap smear. There are many conditions that a thorough physician can detect during an examination-a Sherlock Holmes if you will, who, with a keen eye for observation, combined with a good dose of judgment and experience can pick up a multitude of conditions that aren’t normal, palpable,  or felt which require treatment. So what you don’t know or feel can hurt you! What else is out there that can bite you and you be completely oblivious to? Women are much more than a vagina, uterus, and cervix! A good gynecologist is always on the look out for hypertension, obesity, depression, anxiety, and worry. Pain “in my stomach” can be caused by stomach, gallbladder, small and large bowel issues, as well as menstrual cramps, irritable bowel syndrome, ovulation pain, and musculoskeletal problems. So a good gynecologist has to be a generalist-to be aware of problems other than from the reproductive organs. A good concerned physician should know his or her limitations and refer to other specialist to investigate the issues picked up on your “routine” annual exam. I understand that no one likes their “private parts” poked and prodded, but a kind a gentle physician can make the encounter acceptable and comfortable.  All this has to do with is the simple concept of being healthy. Good health is a deficiency need. If you have it, you take it for granted and you don’t even think about it; if you don’t have your health-that’s all you think about. My advice to everyone is to be smart-see you gynecologist every year-leave their office and be content that your precious health is intact; after all, if you don’t have your health, you don’t have much at all.

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