19. Do you need a Pap test?

Why get a Pap test?

  • A Pap test and pelvic exam are important parts of a woman’s routine health care because they can detect cancer or abnormalities that may lead to cancer of the cervix. Women should have a Pap test at least once every three years, beginning about three years after they begin to have sexual intercourse, but no later than age 21.
  • If the Pap test shows abnormalities, further tests and/or treatment may be necessary.
  • Some human papillomaviruses (HPV) are the primary cause of cervical cancer.

When should the Pap test be done?

A woman should have this test when she is not menstruating.  For about two days before a Pap test, she should avoid douching or using vaginal medicines or spermicidal foams, creams or jellies (except as directed by a physician). These may wash away or hide abnormal cells.

As always, discuss your individual Pap testing needs with your practitioner.

For additional information:

  • Discuss with your physician.
  • Contact Affinity NurseDirect at 1-800-362-9900 toll-free, (920) 738-2230 in the Fox Cities, or (920) 231-6578 in Oshkosh.

From your Internet connection:

then click on Health Resources
then click on Affinity's 22 Tips for Better Health

Or access the following links:


Adapted from:  National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Reviewed:  1/07
Reviewer:  rfc

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