A yearly pelvic exam and Pap smear is one of the most important things you can do for yourself. Your provider will collect cells from your cervix to determine the presence of infection, inflammation, and most importantly, abnormal cells that may indicate cervical cancer. Regular Pap smears and pelvic exams can detect pre-cancerous conditions early, increasing the likelihood of successful treatment.
The National Cancer Institute advises women who are sexually active or who have reached 18 years old to have yearly pelvic exams and Pap smears. This is a healthy habit that you should continue throughout your life, regardless of age. If you have had a hysterectomy, consult your physician as to whether or not you need regular Pap smears.
Click here for information on human papilloma virus (HPV).