Pap Smear Guidelines for Women Over Age 25
Health is one of the greatest blessings that one can ask for. Men and women need to stay fit and healthy to enjoy life to its fullest. Every other day some new fatal disease is discovered increasing the risk for everyone. Cervical cancer is such a dangerous disease that has been around for a long time affecting women. However, women still do not undergo regular pap smear & cervical cancer screening. It is important to get a regular screening done in order to minimize the risk as well as timely diagnosis.
In this article, we have discussed some guidelines about pap smears for women over the age of 25. Keep reading to find out more but before the guidelines, understand what cervical screening is.
Cervical Cancer Screening
A cervical screening test is quite similar to the Pap smear except for a few things.
In a Pap smear test, the focus of the analysis was on the actual cell changes in the cervix. These cells were collected from the cervix of the patient. After the collection, the sample was analyzed in a lab.
In 2014, the MSAC, IARC, and WHO, recommended that instead of the Pap smear test, a cervical screening test must be carried out.
A cervical screening test looks for human papillomavirus (HPV) that can cause cells to change in the cervix. So, it basically looks for the root cause of cell change in the cervix instead of cell changes.
Although a persistent HPV infection needs at least 10-25 years before causing cervical cancer, early diagnosis helps keep it in control.
The cervical screening test or HPV test has proved to be more effective than Pap smear for preventing cervical cancer. Due to this, the mortality rate due to cervical cancer has been reduced to 30%.
Age for Starting Pap Smear & Cervical Cancer Screening
Since 2014, cervical cancer screening has replaced Pap smear. According to the medical committees, women should start cervical cancer screening at the age of 25. The reason is those common cervical abnormalities in women under 25 can resolve on their own without any treatment. Moreover, cervical cancer in women under 25 is not common. Therefore, 25 is a standard age after which medical assistance may be needed to treat the cervical abnormalities.
Unlike a Pap smear, cervical screening test is done after every 5 years instead of two. This is also better because there is a better chance for a test to show the presence of HPV after 5 years than 2. Moreover, it takes at least 10 years before HPV can develop into cervical cancer. So, it means there are no safety threats in getting tested after 5 years.
Guidelines for Women Over 25
According to WHO and IARC, Pap smear & cervical cancer screening should commence at the age of 25. In women under 25, the cervical problems usually resolve on their own. However, women both under and over 25 years must keep the following guidelines in mind for cervical cancer screening.
1. If you are under 25:
Research has shown that women under 25 rarely get cervical cancer. Moreover, any other cervix related problems subside on their own in women under 25. Therefore, there is not much beneficial that can come out of getting screened under the age of 25. However, screening can cause harm to the cervix, such as infections and pain.
2. If you have unusual symptoms:
Even though cervical screening is advised after 25, if unusual symptoms appear at any age, the patient should visit their healthcare provider. Unusual symptoms may include pain, discharge, or vaginal bleeding during sex.
3. If you previously had a Pap smear:
The patients who have had a Pap smear previously will have to undergo screening as well but at a certain time. Anyone under 23 with normal result should undergo cervical screening when they turn 25. Those who are 23 or above, should get screened 2 years after their last Pap smear.
4. If you did not have a Pap smear:
The women, who are sexually active but never had a Pap smear, can start their cervical screening at the age of 25.
5. If your report was okay:
If anyone undergoes a Pap smear before 25 and gets a normal result, they will need to have their first screening at 25.
6. If your report showed abnormalities:
For those whose reports were not normal, it is suggested that they follow their doctor’s advice. They should take any medication that they prescribe and also follow other instructions.
7. If your result was unsatisfactory:
Sometimes, instead of being a solid positive or negative, the result of a Pap smear before 23 can be unsatisfactory. If this is the case, the patient can get screened when they turn 25.
8. If you recently got tested:
When a patient gets their first cervical screening, they need to wait for five years before they can have another. This depends on normal results. So, cervical screening should be done after every 5 years.
9. If you have had HPV vaccine:
Although HPV vaccine can protect the cervix from being attacked by the major types of HPV, it cannot protect against all types. Therefore, even after having an HPV vaccine, the patient needs to have a cervical cancer screening.
10. If you don’t identify as a woman:
A cervical cancer screening is mandatory for anyone who is 25 to 74 years old, sexually active, and with a cervix. So, this means it also applies to the transgender and lesbian community.
These are just some of the guidelines for women above and below 25. If you want to have a Pap smear & cervical cancer screening, you should consult an expert in your area. Search online for the best clinics or facilities offering cervical cancer screening. Schedule an appointment with them and visit the doctor to discuss your problem.