There have been changes recently when it comes to a routine pap smear as to how often you should get one. Even though they now call for pap smears less often, it still remains a regular part of women’s health. This test can be done by your gynecologist, but even primary care providers are able to perform them. It is a quick and easy procedure that can tell your doctor quite a bit about your health.
The Purpose of a Pap Smear
A pap smear allows your doctor to check for cancerous cells on the front of the cervix. Even if none of the cells are currently cancerous, you can also see if there are any abnormal changes in the cells. These cell changes can lead to cancer if not treated. However, whether the cells are changing or are already cancerous, early detection through a regular pap smear improves the chances of success when treating it.
Most Recent Guidelines
The guidelines now being followed when it comes to a regular pap smear are a little different. It used to be that a woman would have one every year at their annual physical. It has been found, however, that yearly testing isn’t necessary for most women. For those who are 21 to 29, you should get a pap smear every three years. After age 30, you can schedule one every 5 years if you are also checked for HPV, or human papilloma virus.
When You Need One More Often
Some women may need to have a pap smear test, also called a pap test, more often. If you have a weakened immune system due to an auto-immune disease or an organ transplant, you will need a pap smear annually. This is especially true, and also important, if you have had an abnormal result in the past you will need one annually at the very least. Your doctor may ask you to come back in 6 months.
When You Don’t Need Them Anymore
There are a couple of reasons why you wouldn’t need to have a pap smear regularly anymore. Many women that have had a hysterectomy also no longer have their cervix. Your doctor may tell you that you no longer need to be tested. If you had a hysterectomy due to cancer, you will most likely need to continue pap tests for a few years. If you are aged 65 and older, a pap smear may not be necessary, especially if your last 3 tests were normal.
A pap smear is very important to help detect cervical cancer early. If you have questions about the guidelines or even about how a pap smear is done, schedule an appointment with the Family Diagnostic Clinic.