An Informative Guideline on Pap Smears for Women above 30

Medical guidelines confuse people more often than not. And this is particularly true for women and their health. To make things worse, the guidelines get revised from time to time. In this blog post, let us discuss about pap smear guidelines particularly for women above 30 and resolve all confusions.  

Also known as Pap test, the procedure is designed to look for changes in the cervical cells or any other abnormal cells and infections that may lead to cervical cancer. It is relevant mentioning in this context that your cervix is prone to over 100 types of viral infections. Among them, the high-risk variety may lead to one or other type of cancer including cancer in the cervix. The infections of low-risk variety often cause genital warts.

Pap test recommendations: Then and now

Earlier, doctors recommended a Pap annually for women above 30. HPV was co-tested with it every 3 years.

Now, the guidelines have changed. Gynaecology Clinic is a renowned private clinic for female health in London located at Harley Street, Marylebone. Expert gynaecologists associated with it recommend women above 30 without any cervical cancer history in the family and any strong personal history to undergo a pap test every 3 years. Co-testing for HPV for this category of women is recommended every 5 years.

According to expert gynaecologists associated with private pap smears test, the reasoning behind this revised recommendation is simple. When you take both the tests together and both the reports are negative, your risk of developing cervical cancer in the next 5 years drops to zero (0%).

However, the 5-year interval is not applicable for women who belong to any of the categories mentioned below:

  • Family history of HPV or cervical cancer.
  • Personal history of abnormal Pap smear test.
  • Malfunctioning immune system.
  • Personal history of being exposed to DES.

(Important to note: DES is the shortened form of Diethylstilbestrol, a drug typically administered on pregnant women.)

If you belong to any of the categories mentioned above, you should undergo the exams more frequently than every 5 years to stay safe from cervical cancer.

Your doctor will give you the right Pap test schedule based on your particular condition. You just stick to that schedule to stay both safe and alert about cervical cancer in the long run.

The new pap smear guideline is suitable to almost every eligible woman. Financially, it also proves less burdensome. HPV screening itself is costly. Taking an annual Pap test along with getting co-tested for HPV can take an unnecessary dig in the pocket.

Women whose pap smears were all normal earlier may sometimes test HPV positive. Remember that this is a normal phenomenon and there is no need to press on the panic button for that. By and far, HPV is transient in nature. 6 out of every 10 sexually active women contract it at some point of time. If your HPV screening tests positive, it does not mean that you are going to get detected with cancer. However, it means that you cannot afford to relax for 5 years before getting the next screening.      

On the other hand, many women – in the category of 30 and above – consider co-testing for Pap smears and HPV every 5 years as a great alternative to attending gynaecological exam annually.. This is not correct and you should not stick to this mistaken approach, says Dr. Hikmat Naoum – a renowned gynaecologist in London.

Every woman must have a breast exam and a pelvic exam with their regular gynaecologist every year irrespective of taking or not taking a Pap smear screening. The annual breast and pelvic exams are simply indispensible because they prove helpful in detecting the signs of ovarian masses, pelvic pain, fibroids, abnormal bleeding, contraception and such other common gynaecological problems early.  

We sincerely hope that this blog post provides sufficient clarity on cervical screening and helps you understand its importance. If you want more information, please feel free to contact us.