Written by: Tara Kraf, WHNP
According to new guidelines most women do not need to have a yearly pap smear anymore. If you are healthy and have not had an abnormal pap smear in the past you can have your pap smear done every three years in your twenties and every five years if you are over the age of thirty. Women over thirty also need to be tested for the HPV virus. This is the virus that causes cervical cancer. As we age our bodies do not get rid of the virus as easily as it did in our twenties making us more susceptible to cervical cancer.
Girls do not need to get pap smears until they are 21. This does not mean that they do not need to see the gynecologist. Teens that are sexually active need contraception counseling and STD testing. Women who have had a hysterectomy for reasons other then an abnormal pap smear or cervical cancer do not need to continue with pap smears either. Once again this does not mean that they do not need to continue with the gynecologist. Well-woman exams screen for more than just cervical cancer. Pelvic exams are needed to assess for other gynecological complications and disorders.
If you smoke, have multiple sexual partners, or have a depressed immune system you are at an increased risk for cervical cancer and your pap smear should be done more frequently.
If you have questions regarding pap smear testing and the new recommendations or would like to schedule an exam please contact the office we will be happy to answer your questions.