Pap smears are a screening test for cervical cancer which can be done routinely in the office of your primary care physician or gynecologist. According to the American Cancer Society, age 21 should be the start of routine Pap smears for patients born with female anatomy. The test should continue every three years until one reaches 30 years of age. At that point, if previous Pap smears have been normal (negative) for pre-cancerous changes to the cervix, they may be done every five years. At age 65 Pap smears may be discontinued, assuming all results are normal. This testing schedule will change with any abnormal gynecological conditions in order to best treat and monitor a patient.
HPV DNA Test
The High-Risk HPV DNA Test occurs during the Pap smear and is done at the same time as the regular cervical screening. HPV stands for human papilloma virus and this tests for the presence of the few virus strains that are associated with cervical cancer. This test, covered by medical insurance, offers more information about whether the cervix may change due to exposure to HPV. Those born with female anatomy, aged 21-29, do not need to have the test unless an abnormal Pap smear is found first. Those aged 65 and older do not need to continue HPV testing nor do those who have had a hysterectomy and have no cervix.
Additional Annual Exams
Annual physical examinations are very important for all female, male, intersex, trans and non-binary individuals. While an annual exam for a patient born with female anatomy does not have to include a Pap smear, there are the breast exam (if applicable), thyroid exam, and other physical exams that are performed. A speculum exam will be done to visually check the health of the cervix and vagina. While annual wellness exams are sensitive in nature, they do not have to be anxiety-provoking. It is a good time for the patient to discuss any health concerns with their doctor. Speculum exams can be done with sensitivity and at the patient’s pace. At Emerge Natural Health Care, we are physicians who can take the time to explain each step of an annual exam and the benefits and outcomes associated with these procedures.
Are you experiencing female sex hormone changes? Using herbal supplements or bio-identical hormones can address hot flashes, night sweats, changes in libido and other symptoms associated with menopause and hormonal changes.
Birth Control Options
With the ever-changing information regarding birth control options, it’s good to have a practitioner with whom to discuss the best contraception method for you.