Why Do I Need a Pap Smear?

Why Do I Need a Pap Smear?

Pop quiz!

  • Are you a woman?
  • Are you over the age of 21?
  • Are you sexually active?
  • Do you have a cervix?

If the answer is YES then you need to go get a pap test like right now!! (just kidding, but seriously do it soon). You can legally drink now  – time to celebrate with a pap smear!

Even if you haven’t been sexually active in a while, you should still see your gynecologist every year (or every 3 years if you had one recently and your results were normal) for preventative cancer screenings. These screenings will include a breast exam and a pap smear and they can save your life.


Why get a Pap smear?

  • Cervical cancer screening is important and life saving
  • If cancer is caught early, then chances of successful treatment are very high
  • No cost to you. Most health insurance plans cover pap smear tests or cervical exams

Reasons why women do not get regular preventative care:

  • Embarrassed to be undressed in front of doctor
  • Uncomfortable discussing sexual history
  • Afraid of having bad vaginal odor while getting the exam
  • They think that because they are not sexually active at the moment or have not had sex in a while then they do not need to get a test
  • They are afraid of possibly having bad test results

All the reasons above are valid however please know that:

  • Your doctor has already seen all sorts of shapes and sizes of the female reproductive anatomy – tall, short, thin, large, shaved or really hairy, pierced, not pierced, etc… interesting fact is that while vulvas are usually different from woman to woman, most vaginas look alike
  • Your doctor has smelled it all – EVERY vagina has its own scent
  • Your doctor has also heard it all – there is nothing you could tell him or her that will shock him. Besides, if you can’t trust your doctors then who can you trust?? Doctors=Discretion
  • Having a bad test result is not a death sentence. In fact the opposite is the true, it can save your life

Did you know that a positive cancer result could be the first step toward saving your life? Some women hold off on getting a pap test done. This is because they believe that the pap smear is specifically looking for cancerous cells and they are afraid of the results. In actuality, the pap smear is looking for abnormal cells that can turn into cancer down the line. This is why this test is so successful in helping to prevent cervical cancers. It draws attention to any abnormalities in the cells and at this stage they are usually treatable.  Notably, some of the abnormal cells that present themselves during routine exams “heal” themselves on their own and on subsequent tests, show normal once again.

How To Prepare for Your Pap Test

If you are going to have a Pap test in the next two days you SHOULD NOT:

  • Douche, which means rinsing with water or another fluid
  • Use a tampon
  • Have sex
  • Use a birth control foam, cream or jelly
  • Use a medicine or cream in your vagina
  • Schedule your exam on a day where you have your period

TRY to be relaxed! The test itself takes less than 5 minutes. TBH it can be uncomfortable but it’s not painful

When and How Often Should You Have the Pap Test?

Age Frequency
<21 yo
  • No Pap smear testing
21-29 yo
  • Pap smear every 3 years
30-65 yo
  • Pap smear without HPV every 3 years
  • Pap smear with HPV every 5 years
>65 yo
  • No Pap smear if previous Pap was adequate and negative
  • Abnormal results, HPV vaccine, post-hysterectomy: use individualized schedule


Don’t have a doctor yet? Come visit New Life OBGYN and schedule your pap test today. We have an have excellent team of doctors and midwives whose specialty is womens health. Stop by any of their 4 offices located in Brooklyn and NYC.

Check back often to keep up to date with the latest woman’s health and pregnancy news on our blog, click here to see more.



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