Now that Thanksgiving is behind us, the Christmas season is officially here. Time to focus on shopping for that special gift and getting all those kisses underneath the mistletoe. But, soon we’ll be rolling into the New Year, and well… ladies, what about preparing for our annual gynecological exam, which has always included a pap smear? Recent studies show cervical cancer rates are higher in Black women and older women than in other women.
Guess what: OBGYNs have switched up the pap smear schedule on us. Figuring out how often we’re supposed to get a pap smear isn’t as easy and straight forward as it used to be.Below America’s favorite OBGYN, Dr. Drai, breaks it down for us, explaining how often we need one of these tests to screen for cervical cancer during our lifetime. For more on Dr. Drai see DrDrai.com.
DR DRAI BREAKS IT DOWN:
- Age 21: Ladies- It’s time to get your 1st PAP smear. MOMs- NO more making your daughter get a PAP smears when she becomes sexually active.
- Ages 21-29: Get your PAP smear every 3 years. If anything is Abnormal, you have to get your PAP every year. It’s okay- you know you want to visit Dr. Drai anyways.
- Ages 30-65: Get your PAP Smear every 3 years OR your DOC can order a PAP Smear + HPV (Human Papillavirus) testing every 5 years. If anything is Abnormal, you have to see Dr. Drai again in a year.
- Age > 65: Great news! No more PAP Smears IF you have had 3 normal smears within 10 years. YAY!
- #GYNEGirls who have had TOTAL (cervix was removed) hysterectomies for non-cancer: No more PAP smears for YOU.
- #GYNEGirls who have had cervical cancer: You have to get your PAP smears for at least 20 years.
Abnormal PAP smear? Don’t be SCARED. Let me explain myself. If your smear comes back Abnormal, you have to get a colposcopy. It’s NO BIG DEAL! You come to the office and I look at your cervix through a microscope. I put vinegar on the cervix and look for changes. Abnormal cells turn white. If Dr. Drai sees something Abnormal on your cervix, you will have a biopsy done- a piece of the cervix is cut off. It’s a small piece. No worries. I send the biopsy away to that same DOC so she can tell me if cancer is there or not. Most likely not…
I have told you this ONE before. HPV causes cervical cancer. Therefore #GYNEGirls If you don’t have HPV, you are not likely to get cervical cancer. This is the reason why you don’t have to get a PAP smear yearly anymore. YAY! You will get use to it. Don’t worry. You still have to come in to see Dr. Drai every year anyway. Your DOC needs to check your breasts for lumps AND feel your ovaries to make sure they are normal in size. For me, I ALSO need to check on you to make sure your mind, body, and spirit is still in sync. Life can be hard. You always need a counselor to chat with.
SuzyKnew! reports regularly on sexual and reproductive health issues important to Black women, and we want you to keep it sexy and healthy during the holiday season.