How often do you need a Pap smear?

Statistics show that cervical cancer is the second most common cause of cancer-related deaths among women worldwide. Prevention through cervical cancer screening is especially important for women’s health.

The best way to detect cervical cancer is by having regular Papanicolaou tests, or Pap smears. A Pap smear is a microscopic examination of cells taken from the uterine cervix.

Pap smears are not designed to detect cervical cancer, but to detect cervical dysplasia, or precancerous changes in the cervix. When abnormal cells are detected by Pap smear, your doctor can take steps to figure out the culprit behind these changes and treat the condition before it turns into cancer.

Pap smear tests frequency depends on your age and health history. Your doctor will determine what is best for you. Most women can follow these guidelines:

(1) Starting at age 21, have a Pap test every 2 years.
(2) If you are 30 years old and older and have had 3 normal Pap tests for 3 years in a row, talk to your doctor about spacing out Pap tests to every 3 years.
(3) If you are over 65 years old, ask your doctor if you can stop having Pap tests.

Some of the most common risks factors for cancer of the cervix include conditions that increase the likelihood of being infected with HPV as well as other factors including the following:

(1) Multiple sexual partners (or sexual partners who have had multiple partners
(2) Starting sexual intercourse at an early age
(3) Weakened immune system
(4) Previous cancer of the lower genital tract
(5) Smoking...

A healthy lifestyle which includes regular exercise, minimizing stress level and abstaining from unhealthy habits such as cigarette smoking and indulging in alcohol also play a part in the prevention of cervical cancer....