Young Women Are Getting Unnecessary Pelvic Exams, Study Finds

Under no circumstance should Pap tests be given to anyone under 21, but Gilberg-Lenz and Trubow both stated the importance of sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing on all women who are sexually active. STI tests be done through speculum exams and bimanual pelvic exams, but those exams should not be indicated in annual or routine testing, said Gilberg-Lenz.

Young women, parents (if the patient is under 18), and medical practitioners should be openly communicating about whether or not pelvic exams are necessary. These conversations should take place clearly and often, according to lead author Jin Qin, ScD, epidemiologist with the Division of Cancer Prevention at the CDC.

If you're 30 to 65 years old, you may not need an annual Pap smear either. And while there is no danger at all in doing pelvic exams, Trubow said “in this day of awareness of consent, it's important to allow women to decline the exam.”

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