I ask this here because I can not think of a better place to ask with more women who are willing to help. I am an 18 year old woman and I find myself debating whether I really need an "annual exam". I have a boyfriend who I am not engaging in intercourse with. He is a virgin, as am I. I don't see a risk of contracting an STD (or HPV) from a virgin I'm not sleeping with. I know his parents, they are also not the type to have STDs that he would have caught at birth (nor are mine for that matter, pretty sure they're monogamous). I am really shy and I can't imagine anyone, male or female down there. My family does not have a history of cancer, I don't smoke and I'm through 2 of 3 Gardasil shots. My doctor is male and I don't really want a man down there that I don't love.
I look at this statistically:
Every year 11,500 women in the US are diagnosed with cervical cancer. Out of 150,000,000 women that is 0.007666% (per year).
Multiply by the 40 years that you're likely to get it. (20-60 years of age). =0.3066666%
Divide by 2 for not smoking. =0.153333% ...So thats 1.53 out of 1000, or basically one woman out of every woman I have ever met and had significant dialogue with. 1000 people is a lot and that's not like they will die tomorrow from it... but rather in their lifetimes.
(This statistic doesn't take into account having the preventative shots and negative family history.)
Now, I've volunteered in hospitals and I know how horrible cancer can be (I don't need/want to hear a bunch of cancer horror stories, there are terrible stories from every disease and I realize that). However, lots of things are just as tragic and painful and more common and aren't the focal point of an embarrassing yearly exam. In fact, I think more lives could be saved by the doctor reminding people to wear bike helmets and seatbelts than cervical cancer screening. Or what about telling patients to exercise and eat right obesity is a much bigger issue in America than cervical cancer, but that is a much smaller focus than the PAP/pelvic. (I'm average weight, this is just in general).
Everyone is going to die. I might get hit by a bus tomorrow so why worry about something that doesn't normally occur until you're 40, is accelerated by smoking and more common if you're very sexually active (when I'm not any of those things). There's cancer that can't be checked for that is just as horrible (brain tumors, lung cancer etc...) as cervical cancer (or prostate cancer in men) but just because these types are "checkable" we insist that they are checked. It's possible to have a full body scan and find any abnormalities, but we draw the line before that. Why is the line not drawn before exposing your privates and having them touched by someone who you aren't intimate with. PAP smears are not 100% effective and apparently bimanual exams aren't even very effective at detecting ovarian cancer. Seems to me that a lot of this is economics and the annual exams just fuel the economy. : S
Don't get me wrong, I prioritize health, but I don't feel I'm at risk for cervical cancer, and there's nothing else the doctor needs to check down there. I haven't had sex, so where would I get an STD, why would I need to be screened? My periods are regular and I don't have any discomfort, they also don't seem to be overly heavy or light... no worries there. The doctor also won't find any signs of "forced entry" (rape) because I have a very loving relationship and have had a protected childhood. Apparently these are the 3 things they check for... none of which concern me. So why go?
Is there an error in my calculations? If not can someone please explain why everyone thinks this "checkup" is such a high importance?
Until I want BCP, I really don't want to go. I also don't think this type of embarrassment should be required to receive BC, in an effort to protect myself. Doctors should not turn down women for BC if they don't have the exam. None of the things pelvic exams check for are even relevant to being on BCPs. I would hate for women to make the wrong decision and have unprotected sex because ignorant doctors force the pelvic exam (I am not likely to do this).
I feel I am relatively educated about STDs etc... Have very good (well I think so anyways...) genital health and at my age I am much more statistically likely to die of motor vehicle accidents, poisoning, drowning, fires, falls or suicide. ( http://www.statisticstop10.com/Cause...der_Teens.html
) All things the doctor won't even mention the next time I'm in. I could understand inspecting my vagina if the exam was an all day thing and was so complete that they discussed all the other, much more common health concerns, but it isn't, so why is genital cancer special? Granted if caught at the right stage it's preventable, but so are a lot of causes of death.
If my logic is wrong, please convince me to go. Health is the most important to me, but logically this isn't making sense.
Thanks for the input, I need some of your wisdom here,