If your gyno told you it’s fine to stop getting exams for the next few years, would you be okay with that? According to The New York Times, doctors have been recommending less frequent cervical cancer screenings via Pap tests. Once a year is excessive, all of a sudden. I find that a little scary.
Apparently, many medical experts feel that overly frequent visits instill unnecessary trauma in girls and women. More cervical cancer tests equal a higher instance of false-positive results -- not to mention all the poking and prodding.
Don’t get me wrong; the gynecologist’s office is literally the last place on Earth I care to be at any given moment. I prefer a root canal on Motrin. (I wish I were joking.) But that doesn’t mean I won’t continue to march my slightly humiliated, paper-gown-swathed butt into that office once a year. Bring on the stirrups; I’m not the type to take chances.
Can you blame me? According to the Centers for Disease Control’s most recent stats, more than 12,000 US women were diagnosed with cervical cancer last year, while 4,000 women died from the disease. I’m no doctor, but I can’t help feeling that two or three years would make a huge difference for someone in the earliest stages of cervical cancer -- and I’m not even taking into account any of the other diseases that gynecological exams screen for.
The Times article suggests that this new practice will promote a more lax attitude in future generations, and I agree 110 percent. In fact, it kind of feels like a throwback to my great-grandmother’s generation. From talking with my MIL, I gathered that many women back in the day were too “modest” to attend regular gynecologist appointments -- and many of them, my ancestors included, succumbed to advanced forms of reproductive illnesses as a result. We’ve come too far medically to revert back to unfortunate realities like that.
I also worry that health insurance companies will catch onto this trend and start reducing coverage for gyno visits, thereby forcing us all to be a little more lax. I have to be honest, ladies...I never thought I’d be arguing for my right to be invaded by a cold metal speculum, but I guess there’s a first time for everything.
How often do you visit the gynecologist? Would you be willing to cut back to once every three years, as doctors are beginning to suggest?