When Can You Stop Pap Smears? Explore More

When Can You Stop Pap Smears? Explore More
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When Can You Stop Pap Smears?

In the United States, cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women.

Regular Pap smears are an important part of preventing cervical cancer, but many women wonder when they can stop having them.

The answer depends on several factors, including your age, health history, and sexual activity.

1. Age

The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends that women start getting Pap smears at age 21.

Women aged 21 to 29 should get a Pap smear every three years.

Women aged 30 to 65 should get a Pap smear every three to five years.

Women over 65 can stop getting Pap smears if they have had three negative tests in a row.

2. Health History

Women who have certain health conditions may need to get Pap smears more often.

These conditions include:

  • A history of cervical cancer or precancerous changes
  • A weakened immune system
  • Exposure to diethylstilbestrol (DES) in utero
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3. Sexual Activity

Women who are sexually active are at higher risk of cervical cancer.

This is because the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is a common sexually transmitted infection, can cause cervical cancer.

Women who have multiple sexual partners or who have sex with men who have multiple sexual partners are at higher risk of HPV infection.

4. Other Factors

Other factors that can affect the frequency of Pap smears include:

  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Pregnancy

When to Stop Getting Pap Smears

The ACS recommends that women stop getting Pap smears after age 65 if they have had three negative tests in a row.

However, some women may need to continue getting Pap smears even after age 65.

These women include those who have:

  • A history of cervical cancer or precancerous changes
  • A weakened immune system
  • Exposure to DES in utero
  • Multiple sexual partners or partners who have multiple sexual partners

Talk to Your Doctor

The best way to decide when to stop getting Pap smears is to talk to your doctor.

Your doctor can consider your individual risk factors and recommend a screening schedule that is right for you.

Conclusion

Pap smears are an important part of preventing cervical cancer.

By following the recommended screening guidelines, you can help to protect yourself from this serious disease.

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If you have any questions about Pap smears, talk to your doctor.

FAQs

1. What is a Pap smear?

A Pap smear is a test that checks for abnormal cells in the cervix.

The cervix is the lower part of the uterus that opens into the vagina.

Pap smears are used to screen for cervical cancer and precancerous changes.

2. How is a Pap smear done?

A Pap smear is done during a pelvic exam.

During a pelvic exam, your doctor will insert a speculum into your vagina to spread open the walls of the vagina.

Your doctor will then use a small brush or spatula to collect cells from the cervix.

The cells are then sent to a laboratory to be examined under a microscope.

3. What are the risks of a Pap smear?

Pap smears are a safe and simple procedure.

However, there are some risks associated with Pap smears, including:

  • Bleeding
  • Spotting
  • Cramping
  • Infection

4. What happens if my Pap smear is abnormal?

If your Pap smear is abnormal, it does not necessarily mean that you have cancer.

However, it does mean that you will need to have further testing to determine the cause of the abnormality.

Further testing may include:

  • A colposcopy
  • A biopsy
  • A loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP)

5. What can I do to prevent cervical cancer?

There are several things you can do to prevent cervical cancer, including:

  • Getting regular Pap smears
  • Practicing safe sex
  • Getting vaccinated against HPV
  • Not smoking
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Eating a healthy diet

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