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Are You Due for a Checkup?

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Whoa: Is it just us, or have the rules for when to go for your annual gyno checkup gotten really confusing? A recent posting on Wed MD suggested the following guidelines for when to go in for a Pap smear, and it looks like when and why you should go is well beyond the realm of a once-a-year deal:

  • Every year at first.
  • Every two to three years for women over age 30 after having three negative Pap-smear tests in a row and one sexual partner or no sexual partners.
  • Every year for women who have had more than one sexual partner.
  • Every year for women who were exposed to DES in their mother's womb. (DES was used in the 1970s to help prevent miscarriages.)
  • Every year for women who have weakened immune systems, including those who have HIV or who have taken steroid medications for a long time.
  • After an abnormal Pap smear (as often as your health-care provider recommends).
Feeling like you need a calculator to figure this out? We chatted with momlogic expert and ob-gyn Dr. Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz for some much-needed clarification. Here's what she said:

"Even I'm confused by this list," says Dr. Gilberg-Lenz. "These are conflicting recommendations to first do Paps every two to three years, but then get HPV testing yearly if you have more than one sexual partner. Uncoupling these tests doesn't make sense. Information is always changing, and there's much more than just the Pap to do at an annual appointment."

Bottom line? "We should see the doctor every year as long as we still have vaginas," says Dr. Gilberg-Lenz.

Well said, doc. So forget all those bullet points and follow the simple once-a-year rule. 

P.S. Whether you like it or not, you're probably due for your Pap ....

next: Why Can't My Toddler Like TV?
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