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Do I need to do a pap-smear if I never had sex?

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Dear Doc,

I am 30-years-old and never had sex. I was told that cervical cancer is caused by a virus that women get when they have sex. Do I have to get regular pap-smears?{{more}}

Maureen

Dear Maureen,

It is true that the human papilloma virus (HPV) has a strong link to a woman developing cervical cancer. The chief way of a woman contracting the virus is through intercourse.

Despite the above facts, it does not tell the entire story. First, it must be understood that the HPV is not the only reason for developing cervical cancer. There are other normal changes of the cells of the cervix that can result in the development of a cancer. During an assessment of the cervix, the taking of the smear is only one aspect of the procedure. The nurse or doctor also examines the walls of the vagina and can get information on infection which has no link to intercourse.

The recommendation is that pap-smears should be done three years after first sexual intercourse, or from age eighteen, or whichever is first. It is important that you tell your nurse or doctor if you are sexually active or not so that they will use an appropriate size speculum that will not be uncomfortable.

Doc

SVG Cancer Society,

P.O. Box 709, Kingstown.

Email: [email protected]

Phone: 526-7036

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