DEAR DR. TURNER:
I’m confused about how often I should get a pelvic exam and pap smear. And my daughter is 18 years old. When should she get her first annual exam?
We recommend that every woman receive an annual pelvic exam as soon as she becomes sexually active, regardless of age. This important exam allows us to assess the female organs – vulva, uterus, cervix, ovaries, fallopian tubes, and bladder – for changes in size or shape and signs of disease like tissue hardening, inflammation, masses, or fibroids. If any changes are discovered during your exam, we will prescribe additional testing such as a pelvic ultrasound for further examination. It’s also important to contact us during the year if you experience any pelvic pain or tenderness.
During your pelvic exam, we can perform a pap smear to test the cells in the cervix for any changes that could lead to cancer. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends every woman get her first pap smear test at 21 years old and continue to do so every three years until she turns 30. Women aged 30-65 years old should have a pap smear every five years.
An abnormal pap smear doesn’t always mean cancer. Many women experience cervical cell changes, and often those changes go back to normal on their own. Should you receive an abnormal pap smear, we will request additional testing like a colposcopy or cervical biopsy for closer examination of the changes. If results of follow-up tests indicate significant changes, the abnormal cells will be removed. You will need follow-up testing after treatment and regular cervical cancer screening after the follow-up is complete.
Scheduling Your Exam
To schedule your pelvic exam or pap smear with us, please call (865) 331-1122. Here’s a recap of when you should get your exam:
- Pelvic exam: every year as soon as you become sexually active
- Pap smear:
- 21-30: every 3 years
- 30-65: every 5 years
About Dr. Turner:
Dean Turner, MD is an expert in general obstetrics and gynecology, and has extensive training in specialized areas of women’s health like abnormal pap smears. In addition to obstetrics and gynecology, Dr. Turner specializes in:
- Vulvar disease
- Menopause management
For more information about Dr. Turner, please click here to see his profile. He is accepting new patients, and you can make an appointment by calling (865) 331-1122.
Disclaimer: please note that this information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to serve as medical advice. If you have a specific medical question or issue, we encourage you to call our office at (865) 331-1122 and schedule an appointment.