Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Should I still get a pap smear even though I haven't been sexually active for a year?"
Should I still get a pap smear even though I haven't been sexually active for a year?
This is a great question. It is important for you to discuss this with your primary care doctor or gynecologist who is familiar with your risk factors and past medical history. Most forms of cervical cancer (what a pap test is screening for) are caused by the virus known as HPV, or human papilloma virus. So, even if you were last sexually active a year ago, if you were infected with HPV, the virus could be causing changes in your cervical cells which can lead to cancer if not picked up by a pap test. However, the good news is that cervical cancer is usually very slow to develop which is part of the reason that the guidelines for pap tests were recently changed. If you are over 30 you now only need a pap test every 3 years in most cases instead of every year. Obviously this depends on many factors and it is very important that you discuss this with your doctor. However, even if you do not need a yearly pap test, it is still very important to keep your yearly physical appointment to be screened for STDs if needed and to discuss your general health and wellbeing.
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