Q: How often do I need a Pap smear?
A: Some physicians think you should have a Pap smear every year. Others think you should have a Pap smear once a year until you've had a least three normal ones. After this, you should have a Pap smear at least every three years as long as they stay normal. Ask your doctor what they think about how often you need a Pap smear.
Certain things may put you at higher risk of cervical cancer. Your doctor will consider these things when recommending how often you should have a Pap smear.
Also talk with your doctor about how often you need a Pap smear if you're older than 65. If you have irregular bleeding or very heavy periods, or bleeding after sex or after menopause, see your doctor. You may need a Pap smear as a part of the exam for these symptoms.
If you have had a hysterectomy ask your doctor if you still need to have Pap smears.
For more information on this and other health topics, visit the College of Family Physicians of Canada's (CFPC's) Web site www.cfpc.ca or talk to your family doctor.
If you have questions on this or other health topics you'd like to see addressed in future articles, please e-mail healthtopics@CFPC.ca.