Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Are pap smears necessary after a hysterectomy?"
My doctor has been pushing me to get routine pap smears even though I'm over 40 and I've already had a hysterectomy. Does this make any sense? To me it seem like no uterus, no cervix, no risk. I find pap smears quite unpleasant and I'm not going to get one if they're not necessary.
The frequency, and time to stop routine pap smears is an area of debate and very patient specific. In your case, I cannot tell for sure if you should have routine pap smears or if they are no longer indicated. Let me explain. The first step is to figure out if you still have a cervix. Not all hysterectomies result in the cervix being removed. For some indications, leaving the cervix behind is done to maintain more of the normal anatomy. If this is the case, then the frequency of pap smears that need to be done depend on when you last had an abnormal one, and how many sexual partners you've had in the last few years. If you do not have a cervix, then a modified pap smear is done only if the indication of the hysterectomy was some kind of cancer. This is an unusual indication. I suggest that you should schedule an appointment with your doctor and define with him or her what the actual indication is for the pap smear. If there is no indication, then you can probably stop having them. Keep an open mind because there are very legitimate reasons to have routine pap smears after a hysterectomy, but you are very right to ask this important question. Good luck.
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