A pelvic exam is a way for doctors to look for signs of illness in organs in a woman’s body before, during, and after menopause.
A woman’s body size determines the sensitivity of the pelvic exam to identify an abnormality. Unfortunately, it is more difficult to examine patients who are heavier.
Why Do Menopausal Women Need Pelvic Exams?
Because the risk of cancer increases with age, having regular pelvic exams may help in early detection of certain cancers in both menopausal and postmenopausal women.
How Often Should Menopausal Women Get a Pap Test?
Still, even though you may not need a Pap test every year, you should still have an annual gynecological exam to protect your health.
Combining a Pap test with a human papillomavirus ( HPV ) test can safely extend the interval between cervical cancer screenings from three years to five years in many women between the ages of 30-65, according to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.
Women over age 65 can stop getting screened if they’ve had at least three consecutive negative Pap tests or at least two negative HPV tests within the previous 10 years, according to the guidelines. But women who have a history of a more advanced precancer diagnosis should continue to be screened for at least 20 years.
And women of any age who’ve had a hysterectomy with removal of the cervix and no history of cervical cancer or advanced precancerous abnormalities do not need to be screened, according to the guidelines.