The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists revised their guidelines in 2009, to recommend that women should have their first screening for cervical cancer (pap smear) at age 21. The decision about when to have your first pap is best made between you and your health care provider, taking into consideration these guidelines, but also looking at your individual circumstances. Some women may be advised to have a pap before age 21 (for example, this is often recommended if a woman has been sexually active for at least 3 years).
Whether or not you need a pap smear now, the Student Health Center still recommends yearly "annual exams" for women
- who are on hormonal birth control now, or are considering using use of a birth control method
- who are sexually active, or anticipating becoming sexually active in the near future, and for any other woman who wishes this exam
This visit includes a review and update of your medical history, weight and blood pressure screening, optional screening for anemia, health risk assessment, and a woman's health exam tapered to the individual. At the time of the visit, there is opportunity for discussion about breast concerns, menstrual cycle concerns, sexually transmitted infections (“STI’s”), pregnancy prevention (or planning), and STI and cervical cancer screening as needed.