A Papanicolaou (or Pap) Smear is a screening test used by doctors in order to detect cellular changes in the uterine cervix. Since cervix is a common site of cancer for women, doctors are recommending mothers to take annual tests. However, aside from being too expensive especially in poor countries, paper drapes, bright overhead lights, stirrups and the steel speculum somehow makes it more discouraging. Physicians usually recommend every woman to take their pap smears every year. However, new guidelines are passed for normal women who passed their Pap smear results.
- Women ages 21 to 65 years old should receive Pap smears every three years.
- Women ages 21 below should not be screened regardless of previous sexual history.
- Women who are 65 years of age should not undergo Pap Smear tests.
- Women ages between 30 and 65 years old who had received normal test results from their Pap smears and were tested negative for HPV or genital herpes, can lengthen the Pap Smear interval to five years.
- Women ages 30 years below should not undergo HPV tests.
These guidelines were loosened both on Pap smear and HPV testing in healthy women since most of them were getting false positive results that had raised undue concern about risks of developing cervical cancer. Because of such, women are forced to undergo colposcopy and painful biopsies, therefore resulting inincreased risk for pregnant women’s preterm labor and low-birth weighed infants. In addition to that, women aged 30 years and younger have transient HPV that was eventually cleared from their systems without suffering any consequence.