Access to health care is at an all-time high in the United States, but recent research is showing that college-aged women are not utilizing the resources available for preventive care. I would like to bring to the attention of the student body at TCU the importance of gynecologic health screenings, also referred to as pelvic exams. Pelvic exams are a form of prevention that should not be overlooked by college-aged women and it is important that this population understand why.Annual pelvic examinations should begin when sexual activity begins and should be done at age 21 in women who are not sexually active, according to the National Women’s Health Information Center. In a recent study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, college women expressed their awareness of the importance of screenings, but their actions did not correlate with the knowledge they possessed. Many college women found it inconvenient to schedule an appointment; they are simply too busy. The article also suggested that though women are conscious of the fact that they should be seeing their gynecologist regularly, they do not know what exactly these visits detect or prevent.
During a pelvic exam, a Pap test is done to detect abnormal cells in the cervix, the lower part of the uterus. It is important to detect abnormal cells, as they can be an early sign of cervical cancer. Another health problem detected by this test is the human papilloma virus. HPV is another risk factor for cervical cancer, and when it is caught early, the risks are greatly reduced with treatment.
It is important for the media to publicize the information above to women of all ages, but especially college-aged women who are debating going in for their first exams. During the pelvic exam, as stated above, Pap tests are done, but STD tests can also be performed. It is extremely important for women to be aware of the risks that these tests reduce. The tests have the potential to provide a longer life and better quality of life for not only the women, but their sexual partners as well. Thank you for your assistance in spreading awareness on this issue.
Karen Collins, senior