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Should pap smears be continued after pregnancy?

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Dear Doc

My last pap smear was six years ago after I had my child and it was okay. Do I have to continue doing them?{{more}}

LaToya

Dear LaToya,

Many women have pap smears done as part of their post-natal assessment. The physician or clinic takes every opportunity to do a smear, as it might be the only time that person would be seen at the clinic. We cannot depend on a system that waits for a woman to become pregnant and visit the clinic for assessment of their cervix. If the latter is done, then most of our women will not get pap smears.

All women should continue their pap smears, despite having a previously normal one. Having had a normal pap smear only means that at the point in time the smear was taken, there was no abnormal findings on the sample taken. It does not mean that there will be no further changes.

Annual smears also can ensure that a poor smear taken a year earlier can be rectified. This is true, due to problems associated with poor technique and non-adherence to preparation for the smear, like douching or having intercourse less than 24 hours earlier.

We must always remember that pap smears are not done to find cancers. It is done to find the earliest changes that can lead to cancer. It therefore means that if we take longer periods between having the smears, we would be finding cancers and this would defeat the purpose.

Early changes of the cervix can be easily and cost-effectively rectified right here in St Vincent. Cancer of the cervix can cost a significant amount to treat, using up vital savings and family resources and of course can kill.

Doc

SVG Cancer Society,
P.O. Box 709, Kingstown.
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 526-7036

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