Most of us have grown up with the idea that you should get a pap smear every year once you become sexually active or once you reach a certain age. However new guidelines have been in place to decrease cervical screening since 1989. Despite this many women are unaware of the new guidelines regarding the frequency of this test. Per these guidelines most women will start getting tested later and won't have to be tested as often. In fact the most recent research points to a future where HPV testing may be primary and the pap smear is only used after that primary testing has been completed.
These new standards call for the first pap smear to be at 21 regardless of how old you are when you first become sexually active. They also recommend HPV (human papillomavirus) testing with your pap if you are older than 30. If you have a history of negative paps for the past three years and your HPV is negative then you can get your Pap smear every 3 years.
Now this doesn't mean that you still won't need an annual exam to check other things like your menstrual cycle and overall general health. In regards to your pelvic exam it may or not be necessary depending on your age and complaints that you have at the time of your visit. But hopefully knowing that you can be screened less frequently with the same accuracy should make your visit to the gynecologist a little easier.
Is it time for you to schedule your annual exam? Schedule your appointment online with our office here.