Friday, March 23, 2012

No more annual paps?

Most of us are used to going to the lady parts doctor once a year, put our feet in stirrups, getting that scary looking duck thing shoved inside of us and then having a coarse swab taken. But my friends, while you will still have to undergo this super fun ritual, it will no longer have to be on an annual basis.

That swab is a pap smear, and it tests whether your cervix is growing funky cells, which could possibly be cancerous. While paps are an important part of cervical cancer screening, they carry a high false positive rate (meaning that your test comes back with not so good results, despite the fact that everything is really fine), leading to unnecessary biopsies and procedures that can arise in complications further down the road. 

Now docs are advising to only get a pap smear every THREE years, and only once you turn 21, regardless of sexual activity before. Instead, women under 30 should be getting regular HPV (oh yes, that fun virus) tests (a leading cause of cervical cancer). Mind you, these recommendations only apply to ladies without a history of abnormal pap smears, cervical cancer, dysplasia, HIV, or other illnesses. 

And even if you are healthy, you should still be going to your lady parts doc on a regular basis, and get your lady parts and the boobs checked out annually. If you are sexually active, you should have regular screening for STDs, and should check in about your birth control situation. Checking in with your lady parts doc is also just a great way to ask them all those nagging questions you have about your body. So just because you won't have to be getting your cervix scraped as often, doesn't mean you should be ignoring your lady parts. 

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