A pap smear is a medical examination that is used to look for signs of cancer in the cervix. Abnormal cell changes are extremely easy to spot by a trained professional.
These cell changes would eventually lead to cancer if they were not spotted and treated in a timely manner. Since cervical cancer is a dangerous and deadly disease that nobody wants to experience, women will need to get regular pap smears for most of their adult life.
It is generally recommended that you get your pap smear shortly after you turn 21 years old. After you reach this key age, then you should return for another pap smear every three years until you turn 65.
Most women can stop getting the examination once they reach 65, but each individual case is different. Some women will be able to stop their pap smears at an earlier age while others will still need to get them at a much later age. This is all based on your medical history, the results of your past pap smears and your family history.
It is also generally recommended for sexually active women to get an HPV examination along with their pap smear after they turn 30 years old. This is because most cases of cervical cancer are caused by HPV. It is virtually impossible for most women to know that they have HPV because it usually does not present any symptoms.
HPV causes major changes to the cells in the cervix, which can quickly lead to cervical cancer if they are not treated promptly.
While it is common for most women to get a pap smear every three years, some women will need to get them more often. Anyone who has previously had cervical cancer, has a weakened immune system or is HIV positive will need to get more frequent pap smears.
There are no risks associated with a pap smear, so you have no reason to push the exam to a later date.
It can be scary to potentially learn that you may have cancer, but the only way to eliminate and treat cervical cancer is by catching it as soon as possible.
If you get pap smears at the recommended times, then you should have no problem staying healthy for many years to come.