The Gyno Cheat Sheet

Just because less frequent cervical cancer screenings (aka Pap tests) are now recommended doesn't mean you should be a stranger to the stirrups. Here's what still must happen at your annual appointment:

ALL AGES: You can count on a speculum exam, where the doc looks for skin conditions, vulvar cancers, and other abnormalities. If you're a new mother, you'll be checked for a dropped uterus or loss in pelvic strength. A bimanual abdominal exam will detect changes in the ovaries and uterus size.

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UNDER 21: Paps are no longer recommended, even if you're sexually active. Young women are at very low risk for cervical cancer, and tests could lead to unnecessary treatment.

21 TO 29: You'll get a yearly cervical cancer screening, until you've received three normal results in a row (then you'll need screenings every two years).

30 AND UP: Same protocol as above, but you'll need screenings only every three years once you receive three normal results in a row.

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