How Often Do I Need to Get a Pap Smear?

Cervical cancer is a disease that can affect any woman between the ages of 21 and 70, although it’s most commonly diagnosed between 35 and 44. While cancer is a terrifying prospect, cervical screening has played a big part in reducing the incidence rate by detecting signs early, and has increased survival rates as a result.

Having a regular Pap smear is essential for any sexually active women to prevent and reduce the risk of cervical cancer becoming a problem, but how often should you be tested?

It’s recommended that you have your Pap smear every three years

We know that cervical cancer develops slowly over three to seven years, so having a Pap smear once every three years is enough to detect the cell changes that take place in the early stages of the disease.

During your Pap smear, Dr. Shilad uses a cotton swab to collect cells from your cervix, which are tested at a laboratory. The tests will indicate if the cells are changing, which is the first sign that cervical cancer is present or at risk of developing.

The accuracy of the test results can be affected by your period, having sexual intercourse, douching, or using hygiene products in that area two days before your smear. So do take care to avoid these to prevent inaccurate results.

Some women may need more frequent testing for cervical cell changes

If there is a history of cervical cancer in your family, or you have had the condition yourself, then you may need to have your Pap smear more regularly.

There are a few other factors that may put you at increased risk of the disease, including a weakened immune system, being HIV positive, or if you were exposed to diethylstilbestrol (a synthetic form of estrogen) before you were born.

Dr. Shilad will guide you to the right frequency of Pap smears according to your past medical history, family history, and any other factors that might put you at greater risk of cervical cancer.

For any woman waiting between Pap smears concerned about the risk of cervical cancer, there are a few warning signs of cell chances of which to be aware. These include:

Pap smears don’t stop once you’ve hit menopause

Although the risk of cervical cancer is somewhat reduced in your later years, it’s still important to have your Pap test every three years until the ages of 65 and 70, and with the previous three smears being negative. This is particularly important if you’ve had a hysterectomy due to cancer, or have any of the risk factors for cervical cancer, including family history.

Although guidelines say that a Pap smear is only necessary once every three years, you should still visit Dr. Shilad here at One Oak Medical Center for an annual gynecologic exam. This is the perfect opportunity to ensure the health of your pelvis, ensure that reproductive organs and fertility are as they should be, and for you to ask any questions about aspects of your sexual health that may be bothering you.

As a member of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, you can be sure that you’re in the best of hands with Dr. Shilad, who has the skill, expertise, and up-to-date training that you’re looking for in an OB/GYN. To book your appointment with Dr. Shilad today, simply book online or give us a call.

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