Gynecological Annual Exams
Health & Wellness provides annual gynecological exams and Pap smears.
A gynecological exams, including a pelvic examination, is recommended yearly beginning at age 18 or once sexually active.
Cervical Cancer Screening
The first yearly Pap smear (cervical cancer screening test) is recommended three years after becoming sexually active, even if you have stopped having sex. The reason for these new recommendations is that you are most likely to become infected with human papillomavirus (HPV) when first having sex. Usually your body will get rid of this virus on its own over time. While your body is "dealing" with the virus, your Pap smear may be abnormal. For most women, the first exam is less frightening than they expected and they are often glad that they have completed it.
Abnormal Pap smears need in-depth evaluation, which is invasive and expensive and which may later prove to have been unnecessary. Since the cervix often heals itself. This is the reason for the recommendation that Pap smears be delayed for most women until three years after having sex with a male.
Yearly chlamydia testing is recommended for sexually active women under the age of 26. Testing for other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) may also be recommended by your clinical provider.
Remember, you still need a yearly gynecological exam (and chlamydia testing if you are currently or have been sexually active with men in the past), even if you don’t need a Pap smear yet.
Abnormal Pap Smears
Follow-up of abnormal Pap smears showing Low Grade Squamous Intraepitheal Lesions (LGSIL).
After someone has had an abnormal pap smear, they can choose to:
- Have an immediate colposcopy with biopsy
- Repeat Pap at 6 and 12 months, and high risk HPV testing at 12 months.
Because of the natural history of HPV, Health & Wellness follows the least invasive approach of giving the cervix time to repair itself before doing a colposcopy. Consequently, we are no longer routinely recommending colposcopy for adolescents with LGSIL.
Your physician or nurse practitioner may recommend a colposcopy to closely examine your cervix to identify the source of the abnormal cells. Alleviate some of your anxiety about this procedure by understanding what it involves, how you can prepare and what you can expect afterward. Learn more about colposcopy.
Getting regular Pap smears is the best thing you can do to prevent cervical cancer. Learn more about what to expect during your next pap test.
Annual exams for initiation of hormonal contraception is not required by Health & Wellness. Learn more about contraception.