Why Do I Need A Pap Test?


If you are sexually active, it is recommended that you have regular Pap tests, also known as Pap smears, as part of your routine healthcare. Being sexually active increases your risk of exposure to human papillomavirus (HPV), which is a major risk factor for cervical cancer. It’s important to discuss your individual risk factors and screening schedule with your healthcare provider, as recommendations may vary based on your age, health history, and other factors.

What is a Pap Smear or Pap Test?

During a Pap test, a healthcare provider collects cells from the cervix (lower end of the uterus). These cells are then examined under a microscope to look for any abnormalities that could indicate cervical cancer or precancerous conditions in the cervix that can be treated to prevent cancer from developing. The test is relatively simple and quick, and it is typically performed as part of a regular pelvic exam.

HPV is the most common STD and is the main cause of cervical cancer. HPV is spread primarily through genital contact and there is no cure. Most infections resolve on their own without treatment. However, if a high risk infection persists, it can cause cancer of the cervix or vagina in women. In most cases, follow-up care for an abnormal test result may prevent cervical cancer from developing.

With a normal test result, this test only needs to be done every 3 years. 

Why do I need a Pap Smear?

Here are some key reasons why you might need a Pap smear:

  • Cervical cancer screening: The main reason for a Pap smear is to screen for cervical cancer or to detect precancerous changes in the cervix, which can be treated to prevent cancer from developing. Regular Pap tests can help detect cervical cancer early when it is most treatable, so staying up-to-date with screenings is important for your health.
  • Early detection: Cervical cancer often has no symptoms in its early stages. A Pap smear can detect changes in the cervix early, when cancer or conditions that may lead to cancer are easier to treat.
  • Guidelines and recommendations: Health organizations such as the American Cancer Society and the US Preventive Services Task Force recommend regular Pap smears for women starting at age 25, with the frequency depending on your age and health history.
  • Risk factors: Your doctor may recommend more frequent Pap smears if you have certain risk factors for cervical cancer, such as a history of abnormal Pap smears, a weakened immune system, or exposure to diethylstilbestrol (DES) before birth.
  • Screening for other infections: During a Pap smear, your doctor may also test for human papillomavirus (HPV), a common sexually transmitted infection that can cause cervical cancer.


Now What?

It’s important to follow your healthcare provider’s recommendations for Pap smears based on your age, health history, and risk factors. Regular screenings can help detect cervical cancer early or prevent it from developing in the first place.

Bella Medical Clinic provides FREE well woman check-ups for women which include a physical exam, breast exam, and a pelvic exam/ Pap smear. Bella Medical Clinic can also provide a medical referral for any recommended follow-up care and possible treatment.

Call, Text or request an appointment online for your FREE well woman check-up today!

More to Explore

Plan B: Is It Right For Me?

If you or someone you know had sexual intercourse and you regret it or worse, you were assaulted or raped, you may

Mental Health Effects of Abortion

The decision to have an abortion is a deeply personal and complex one, and its impact on mental health can vary from person to person.