Possible Unintended Consequences of the 5 year Pap Smear Recommendation

On March 14, 2012 the U.S. Preventative Service Task Force changed the recommendation for pap smears for women between the ages of 30 and 65 from every three years to every five years.

While this may be alright in terms of the new findings with regard to cervical cancer screenings and limiting unnecessary and possibly painful testing on women – there may be unanticipated consequences.

Getting a cervical cancer screening and continuing or up-dating birth control methods are two of the major reasons women make it to their OBGYN appointments. While no one looks forward to these visits – these important reasons keep us coming back for regular checkups.

While women are often aware of other concerns – like STI testing which needs to be done at least once a year – without the motivation of cervical cancer screenings or the physical discomfort associated with sever infections – getting into the office often seems like an unnecessary inconvenience.

At a time when symptom fewer infections, like Chlamydia, are on the rise and the rates of testing for these infections have decreased, saying that one only needs a check up every 5 years limits opportunities for doctors to encourage testing and treatment.

It is key that women stay vigilant and make it into their OBGYN’s office at least once a year to maintain good reproductive health.

“It is critical that health care providers are not only aware of the importance of testing sexually active young women every year for Chlamydia infections, but also of retesting anyone who is diagnosed,” Dr. Gail Bolan, the CDC’s director of STD Prevention, told reporters in a conference call from the National STD Prevention Conference in Minneapolis..

Carrol, Linda “Pap Smear Every 5 Years? Panel Says It is Safe” in Vitals on MSNBC.com. http://vitals.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/03/14/10689185-pap-smear-every-five-years-panel-says-its-safe

Ruerters “Few Women Getting Tested for Chlamydia: CDC” in Women’s Health on MSNBC.com http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/46734148/ns/health-womens_health/#.T3DC72EeOz8

Ibid.

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