Undergoing a Pap smear, or Pap test is a common reason for a woman to request a visit with her gynecologist. A Pap smear is used as an effective screening method to detect cervical cancer, as well as any abnormal cellular activity that could potentially be cancer-causing if not addressed. To help women gain a clear and full understanding of Pap tests and their importance to reproductive health, our board-certified gynecologist wanted to discuss a few common myths about Pap smears.
Myth #1: Women Should Get a Pap Smear Every Year
Unlike an annual well woman exam, a Pap smear does not necessarily need to be performed every year. In some cases, a Pap smear is performed at least once every 3 years. However, we recommend to most of our patients have a Pap smear every year so that any abnormalities or issues may be caught as early as possible. Every woman is different and certain factors including an HPV infection or family history of cervical cancer may also warrant more frequent Pap testing
Myth #2: Pap Smears Can Also Test for Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)
Pap smears can check for STIs, as we can add chlamydia, gonorrhea, and trichomonas cultures to the Pap. A Pap can test for trichomonas can also be done without adding this order because the trichomonas can be seen under the microscope
Myth #3: Women Need to Undergo Pap Smears Forever
This depends. We generally recommend that women over 65 continue to have Pap smears performed every 3 years as women 65 and older account for roughly 20% of all cervical cancer cases. Women who have had a total hysterectomy (including removal of the cervix) may not need to continue with any future Pap smears. Your gynecological provider can verify what is best for you based on your history.
It’s important to remember that every woman is different and while these general recommendations may apply to many people, it’s still essential to consult with a board-certified gynecologist before making any decisions regarding Pap smears. For more information or to request a Pap smear appointment with Dr. Kristine Gould or one of our other gynecological providers, please contact Gynecology Associates of Gwinnett today. You can also follow along with us on Facebook and our medical spa, MadEmEl Medical Aesthetics, on Instagram.