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Annual Well Woman Exam and changes to Pap Smear Guidelines
From The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (“ACOG”)
The annual health assessment (“annual examination”) is a fundamental part of medical care and is valuable in promoting prevention practices, recognizing risk factors for disease, identifying medical problems, and establishing the clinician–patient relationship.
Pap Smear (cervical smear, or smear test) is a method of cervical screening used to detect potentially pre-cancerous and cancerous processes in the cervix. The test may show abnormal results when a woman is healthy or normal results in a woman with cervical abnormalities — some 25% of the time. It may even miss up to 5% of cervical cancers.
AGOG Guidelines: How often should I have cervical cancer screening and which tests should I have?
How often and which tests depend on your age and health history
- Women aged 21–29 years should have a Pap Smear test alone every 3 years. HPV testing is not recommended.
- Women aged 30–65 years should have a Pap Smear test and an HPV test (co-testing) every 5 years (preferred). It also is acceptable to have a Pap Smear test alone every 3 years.
More information? Cervical Cancer Screening
BEFORE your annual exam to help ensure reliable results
- AVOID sexual intercourse the day before the test
- AVOID douches 48 hours before the test
- KNOW the following: (these topics are relevant to the interpretation of the Pap test, especially if any abnormalities are detected)
- date and results of your last Pap Smear test
- history of abnormal Pap Smear tests
- date of last menstrual period and any irregularity
- use of hormones and birth control
- family history of gynecologic disorders
- any vaginal symptoms
- EMPTY BLADDER right before the Pap Smear test to avoid discomfort during the procedure.
AFTER your annual exam
- harmless cervical bleeding is possible immediately after the test
- some women may need to use a sanitary napkin
- comply with the Clinician’s instructions for follow-up visits and any needed retests
Want to learn more? Check our Women’s Health Resources page
Treatment of Abnormal Pap Smear Results
Preparation for IUD insertion
- Appointments for IUD’s are best scheduled between day 5 and 9 of your cycle. (count the beginning of your cycle from the first day of your menstrual bleeding).
- Plan to be at the center for 1 to 1 1/2 hours
BEFORE your IUD insertion appointment
- Avoid sexual intercourse the day before insertion
- Avoid douches 48 hours before the insertion
- Avoid vaginal creams or medications one week before the insertion
- Eat lightly prior to your appointment
- Take Tylenol or Motrin 30 minutes prior to your appointment time
AFTER your IUD insertion appointment
- Harmless spotting or bleeding and moderate to light cramping is possible immediately after; some women may need to use a sanitary napkin.
- You should also be sure to comply with the Clinician’s instructions for follow-up visits.
- Though you will immediately be protected it is suggested to refrain from Sexual Activity for 3 days.