How often do you need a Pap smear?
A Pap smear is a very simple procedure used for screening cervical cancer. This test entails collecting cell samples from the cervix and it can accurately detect any changes in the cervical cells that might indicate the development of cancer in the future. Because cervical cancer is an extremely progressive type of cancer, detecting it as early as possible with a Pap smear here at Western Wayne Physicians, and obtaining proper treatment, is very vital.
When Should You Have a Pap Smear?
The answer will vary from one woman to another and will be based on certain factors. With that said, according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, women should start getting Pap smears beginning at 21 years old and have another one at least every three years up to age 65. Alternatively, women aged 30 years old and up could get a Pap smear and an HPV exam at least every five years.
It is, however, immensely crucial to point out that if you receive an abnormal result from a Pap smear, you might have to be tested more regularly. Women who have compromised immune systems, are HIV-positive, or have a cervical cancer history in the family should also be screened more regularly.
Should You Visit Your Doctor Yearly Even If You Don’t Need a Pap Smear?
You might be thinking that it’s totally fine to skip the recommended annual checkup because the Pap smear recommendations technically state that you don’t really need to get a yearly Pap smear. But here’s why skipping your annual checkup isn’t a good idea—this visit is an excellent opportunity to check on other things other than the cervical cells.
The Pap test is just one part of the yearly checkup. During this checkup, your doctor will also conduct a thorough medical consultation, a breast exam, pelvic exam, and STI screening. This is a great opportunity to discuss any questions you may have about your period, birth control, fertility, or other symptoms that you may have.