Pelvic exams can detect diseases ranging from ovarian cancer to STIs like bacterial vaginosis, genital herpes, trichomoniasis. In fact, the United States has been shown to conduct twice as many cystectomies and hysterectomies compared to European countries because of findings on bimanual examinations.
However, often times, these exams may reveal benign conditions that can cause anxiety due to the need for further testing. Moreover, these tests are not the most effective screening tool to detect cancer, and additional measures are needed.
Therefore, considering these pros and cons, patients should have a say in and understand why their pelvic exam is being conducted. Their awareness and understanding about its utility will help make them more comfortable with the exam. To ensure this sense of partnership between patients and physicians, medical evidence and personal support must be given to women to assure them that they are empowered in their decision making.