Health Tips: Pelvic exams are needed less frequently than you might think


It seems the pelvic exam to check a woman’s vagina and uterus for medical problems has been done for millennia: There are versions of the speculum (a device that aids in the examination) in textbooks from the time of the famous Greek physician Galen in 130 AD. In the 20th century, the exam was often an unwelcome rite of passage for teenage girls. But in this century, there are new guidelines, supported by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Cancer Society, that clearly state pelvic exams and cervical cancer screenings are no longer routinely recommended for most females under the age of 21. 

So why does a new study by researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention along with colleagues from the University of California-San Francisco estimate that more than half of the 2.6 million pelvic exams given to young women 15 to 20 annually -- that’s 1.4 million of them -- are potentially unnecessary? Plus, 1.6 million unnecessary Pap tests are given every year! 

The exams aren’t needed to prescribe most contraceptives and are often unnecessary for diagnosing sexually transmitted diseases. Plus, the potential for false-positive test results, overdiagnosis, anxiety and unnecessary costs are enormous. 

Parents, be aware of these guidelines and help your daughters get the medical attention they need without subjecting them to unnecessary exams. Young women, it’s tough, but tell your doc no, unless you’re given a medically specific reason for the exam or test.

System 20: Your new way to create a new you in 2020

Fad diets come and go ... There’ve been ones focused on grapefruit, cigarettes (Lucky Strike’s “Keep a Slender Figure”), and even parasites (banish fat with “sanitized tapeworms in a jar”).

But over time, extreme diets (and, boy, are those extreme) don’t help you maintain a healthy weight or achieve a younger RealAge. That’s why “The Dr. Oz Show” has formulated a research-based, healthy-living plan for the new decade -- System 20. It’s not a diet, but it’s designed to help you lose 20 pounds, reduce your risk for heart disease and diabetes by 20% and ease chronic pain. Plus, you’ll make your RealAge at least two years younger!

How? By adopting healthy eating, sleep monitoring, manageable exercise and mental health check-ins. You can get the entire program at But let’s look at the basic foods to shop for to help you get started. 

Food basics: Whenever you’re preparing a meal, make sure it has four elements: protein, beans, greens and flavor -- you want to enjoy this! Proteins include tuna, shrimp and salmon; beans range from chickpeas to navy; greens include spinach, Swiss chard and kale. On you’ll find a “System 20 shopping list” and related recipes from Daphne Oz. 

Your routine: Eat your first meal at 11 a.m. and stop eating at 7 p.m. You can take a cheat day once a week. Have that snack you really want, as long as it’s within reason. Then, you’ll make this first year of this decade your year to thrive!


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