Do you need to have a pap smear if you’re not sexually active?

by Rachel on March 31, 2011

I asked my primary this, but he said that I’d have to ask the doctor, if she could just do a pelvic exam. Pap Smears are tests for HPV, which can become cervical cancer. (Pap is a part of Human Papilloma Virus) So, if you’re using logic here: If you aren’t sexually active, you won’t get HPV, therefore, no need for the test. Is this true? Are there any Gyns on here that could answer this? Thanks.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Raynii March 31, 2011 at 11:05 am

When I went to the GYN for the first time i hadn’t had sex yet and they didn’t need to give me a PAP, just the pelvic exam.

lesley w March 31, 2011 at 11:19 am

i und erstand no only when sexually active

Jillie88 March 31, 2011 at 11:46 am

Mostly they say by the time you’re 18 or when you start being sexually active

Nurse Nice March 31, 2011 at 12:28 pm

Yes, you still need to have a yearly pap smear once you are at least 18. It will check for abnormal cells and cancer. If you are sexually active before 18 you should start having pap smears then because of the risk of getting HPV.

?Mommy? March 31, 2011 at 12:42 pm

A Pap smear is a way to look at a sample of cells taken from a woman’s cervix. The test is used to look for changes in the cells of the cervix that show cervical cancer or conditions that may develop into cancer.

All women who are or who have been sexually active, or who have reached age 21, should have an annual Pap smear. It is your best tool to detect pre-cancerous conditions and hidden, small tumors that may lead to cervical cancer. If detected early, cervical cancer can be cured

S P March 31, 2011 at 1:39 pm

If you are over the age of 18 then you should have one. If you are under 18, then you don’t need one.

booklookers March 31, 2011 at 2:08 pm

Once your period starts, you need to have a yearly pelvic exam. They look at your cervix and feel your uterus. They also do a breast exam.. It’s important. Catching cervical cancer or ovarian cancer or breast cancer early is the best way to save a life. Also, not all cervial cancers are caused by HPV.

baldie March 31, 2011 at 2:53 pm

every woman needs to have 1, even if they arent sexually active.

sadsac March 31, 2011 at 3:15 pm

It depends on whether you have a lot of pap.

Jacqui (Australia) May 24, 2011 at 2:05 pm

I’d urge every woman to do her reading and make an informed decision about the need for and value of these exams. Pap tests are never compulsory, never! The pap test like any other cancer screening test has risks and benefits and legally and ethically requires your informed consent. Fewer than 1% of women benefit from pap tests (0.65%) according to American pathologist, Richard DeMay – 0.35% get false negatives and may be disadvantaged by testing and 99% derive no benefit at all. (I’ve seen figures even less impressive – in Australia the lifetime risk of cervical cancer is 0.65% and around 0.45% benefit from smears)
Look at your risk profile before deciding to have pap tests. The Finnish program provides some protection from false positives – they offer 5 yearly screening from age 30, 5 to 7 tests in total. They have the lowest rates of cc in the world and send the fewest women for colposcopy/biopsies. (fewer false positives) Annual and biannual testing is over-testing and produces very high rates of false positives and over-treatment. Annual will send 95% of women at some point for colposcopy/biopsies – Two yearly – 78%
Three yearly – 65% Five yearly – still high at 35%-55% (depending on the research) Almost all referrals are false positives.
Women under 25 (some say 30) do not benefit from testing, but produce very high rates of false positives. CC in this group is VERY rare and rare in all age groups. The tiny death rate from cc in young women remains the same whether you screen or not.
It’s important to do your reading and control your healthcare – unnecessary treatments and biopsies to the cervix can cause damage and lead to infertility, miscarriages, high risk pregnancy, premature babies, more c-sections and psych issues.
The use of stirrups is another disturbing feature of your system – they are not used in consult situations in this country. (or the UK)
Dr Joel Sherman’s medical privacy forum is a wealth of information – see under women’s privacy issues the articles listed in the side bar. I’d recommend the Richard DeMay article and research by Angela Raffle. (1000 women need regular screening for 35 years to save ONE woman from cc (BMJ;2003) Commentary: “Why I’ll never have another smear test” by Anna Saybourn (online) There are also lots of articles by Heather Dixon and others on the real value of these well-woman exams and the unethical practice of doctors holding BC hostage…
Once informed you’re better able to protect yourself from harm and to control every consultation. IMO, doctors are careful and respectful when faced with an informed woman.

Those exams are NOT clinically required for the Pill… I should add women not yet sexually active are excluded from testing in other countries, guidelines calling for ALL women to test from 21, that is BAD medical advice.
Also, women who’ve had complete hysterectomies for benign conditions should be excluded from testing. One other group often overlooked – women in lifetime mutually monogamous relationships are most unlikely to benefit from testing – their risk of cc is near zero.
Whether you’re low or high risk, the risk from this cancer is very small and tiny for low risk women – it is your decision whether you screen and if you do, avoid over-screening and early screening.

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