If you’re like most women who dread having to get a Pap smear done at your yearly wellness check, you’re in luck! Changes in the Pap smear screening guidelines now advise against annual Pap smears for the majority of women. We sat down with Dr. Valary Gass at Women’s Care of Wisconsin to discuss what guidelines have changed so you know what to expect at your next gynecologist visit.
First, Let’s Talk About What A Pap Smear Is
used to screen for cervical cancer in women. The test itself is used to collect cells from your cervix
and it helps your gynecologist screen for changes in your cervical cells that indicate cancer may
develop in the future. Cervical cancer is a particularly aggressive disease, so catching it early on
through Pap smear screening is crucial!
How Often Do You Actually Need To Have A Pap Smear Done?
All of the recent changes to the Pap smear screening guidelines have caused a lot of confusion
about when women should be screened, but the real answer is that it depends on the age, health,
and family history of each woman.
“The new guidelines state that women should start screening at the age of 21,” Dr. Gass says,
but most women don’t need to be screened every year.
“Women over the age of 21 should have a Pap smear done every 3 years,” Dr. Gass explains.
“At age 30, women can continue getting a Pap smear every 3 years or they can choose to get a
Pap smear with HPV co-testing every 5 years.”
are great, but it’s important to remember that your health and family history are also factors when
it comes to determining how often you should be screened.
If you have had an abnormal Pap smear in the past, have a history of cervical cancer, are HIV+,
have a weakened immune system, or if you were exposed to diethylstibestrol (a synthetic form of
estrogen) in utero, you may need to be screened more frequently.
when you should stop screening, please have a frank conversation with your doctor,” Dr. Gass
wellness check too! For many women, their gynecologist is the only doctor they see each year.
Your annual wellness check is an opportunity to go over more than just your cervical cells -- plus,
it’s covered by the Affordable Care Act! So do your body a favor and don’t skip your annual
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