The United States preventative task force, the agency which makes recommendations for screening and disease prevention, recently published that they could not recommend performing the pelvic exam as part of the yearly well-woman physical.
After reviewing the evidence for the benefits and risks of the yearly exam, the USPTF decided that there was no clear benefit. Now, this only applies to non-pregnant women without gynecological complaints. Also, it doesn’t mean that you can skip your Pap smear or other screenings. But it does mean that in select patients having this exam done isn’t a foregone conclusion.
When we built our offices one of the design points that was important to us was the sliding barn door concealing the exam room and table. The reasoning for this was that without the exam table looming over the patient/provider conversation there would be less stress. Better communication, and thus better medical care, comes out of low stress environments.
Given the anxiety that these sorts of exams can produce it is certainly worth a discussion with your doctor about whether or not yours is merited.