Important news about your vagina: the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says that instead of annual Pap smears, you can now get screened for cervical cancer every three years. ACOG has actually been saying for awhile that women don’t need annual Pap smears, but this recommendation was finally put in writing yesterday by the United States Preventative Task Force and the American Cancer Society.
So, why have the recommendations changed?
According to The New York Times, annual Pap smears were causing a lot of false positives — which, in addition to producing anxiety — caused women to get cervical biopsies that could affect future childbearing. The new recommendations also say that women should start getting Pap smears at age 21, even if she has become sexually active (and thus potentially exposed to HPV, which has certain strains that can cause cervical cancer) years earlier.
I’m intrigued by the new guidelines — perhaps one day in the half-woman/half-robot future, we could get out of pelvic exams altogether! However, ever since I started learning about sexuality and women’s health in middle school and high school, it was drilled into me that you need annual Pap smears starting from the time you become sexually active. I probably still want a Pap smear every year for piece of mind.
What do Frisky readers think?
Contact the author of this post at Jessica@TheFrisky.com. Follow me on Twitter at @JessicaWakeman.