A recent study from JAMA uncovered that although there are clear guidelines against the practice, U.S. doctors continue to perform an estimated 2.6 million unnecessary pelvic exams and pap smears on girls and young women costing nearly $123 million annually. The statistics spark new movements against healthcare practices that harm specifically young women and girls.
Healthcare professionals are speaking out about communication issues that perpetuate these practices. There are issues regarding what patients are aware of, but also many doctors “are just not aware of the guidelines.” Young women and girls are at more of risk because they are not informed about proper OB/GYN practices. There are concerns the trust needed between doctor and patient can be misused and lost due to unnecessary pelvic exams and pap smears. What most do not know, but what is extremely important to note is that young women do not need to see a gynecologist regularly before age 21.
New legislation is in the works to protect patients from dangers concerning these practices. Due to revelations from the Larry Nassar scandal, 10 states passed measures requiring consent for anesthetized patients to undergo pelvic exams. While legislation is moving forward in certain states, some wonder why this is not a national movement. Women are receiving improper healthcare, millions annually are being wasted, and there is a greater risk for the safety of patients, but despite these harrowing facts there has been little attention to these astounding statistics.
Greater publicity has come with Evelyn Yang, wife of presidential candidate Andrew Yang, recently opening up about being sexually assaulted by her OB-GYN during her pregnancy.
Sources: Ms. Magazine 2/3/20; NBC News 1/7/20; NPR 1/9/20