Dr. Marchese describes the Pap smear and shares if all women need to have this exam.
Well the Pap smear was developed a number of years ago as a screening for cervical cancer in women and that’s the reason women are encouraged to go to the doctor every year for what’s called their annual well woman’s exam. It’s during that visit that a woman receives her annual clinical breast exam and her annual Pap smear.
The Pap smear is merely just a sampling of cells from the face of the cervix. The cervix is about the size, shape, and consistency of the tip of your nose. So imagine just taking a little stick and getting some cells off the tip of your nose, that is pretty much what a Pap smear amounts to. And then that goes off to a lab where a trained cytologist reads the cells and looks for any abnormal cellular changes.
If the Pap smear comes back abnormal, the abnormalities are graded. Is it a mild abnormality; is it a moderate abnormality; is it a severe abnormality or is it cervical cancer?
Well the new guidelines state that a woman should start receiving her first Pap smear at the age of 21. The guidelines have just recently changed for adolescent girls.
We used to say that adolescent girls would either wait until age 21 to receive their first Pap smear, unless they were sexually active at a young age, and then the guidelines state that a young girl should receive her first Pap smear three years after the onset of sexual intercourse.
So if a young girl first has sexual intercourse at age 15 she would get her first Pap smear at age 18. The reason we push that number out now to age 21 is because we have found that in the adolescent girls if their Pap smear comes back abnormal their bodies typically respond and fight off the abnormality on their own.
About Dr. Marianne Marchese, N.D., L.L.C.:
Dr. Marianne Marchese is a clinician, author, and educator. She graduated from Creighton University in 1990 with a B.S. in Occupational Therapy and specialized in neurological and orthopedic conditions while working at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. Dr. Marchese received her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from the National College of Naturopathic Medicine (NCNM) in Portland, Oregon in 2002. She completed a two-year postgraduate residency in Integrative Medicine and Women's Health and completed a six-month post-graduate training in Environmental Medicine.