I hear it all the time, “I don’t need PAP smears anymore.” “My PCP said I don’t need those anymore.” “I’m too old for a PAP.”
That is both right AND wrong. The cervix is the opening to the uterus that we can see when we look into the vagina. A PAP smear is a screening test for cervical cancer. It is a separate cancer from uterine cancer or ovarian cancer. The guidelines are clear, most women do not need PAP smears after 65. The problem is people interpret that to mean women do not need a female exam after 65. This is WRONG! Women do need a female exam after 65 years old, just maybe not a PAP smear, they are two different things.
You are not just a cervix! You have the outer skin (the vulva) where you can get skin cancer. You have a vagina, where you can have atrophy. You have a cervix, which can get cancer after 65. You have a uterus, that can get cancer or benign tumors. You have ovaries, that can get cancer, and that risk goes up as we age.
The last two cervical cancers I diagnosed were in a 72 year old and 66 year old! They both had visible tumors on the cervix. If someone had just LOOKED, they would have seen it. Seeing if your uterus is hanging outside your body is how we diagnose pelvic organ prolapse, and we can fix that. If we see extreme atrophy that is affecting your sex life, we can fix that too.
Coming to the gynecologist is not the most awesome day of the year but it matters. A visual exam and a pelvic exam (where we push on your insides) are important to your health!
About Dallas Obstetrics & Gynecology
For over 35 years, our team of Board Certified, North Dallas physicians have provided the highest quality of comprehensive women’s healthcare in gynecology and obstetrics. We serve Dallas, North Dallas, Richardson, Addison, Garland, Preston Hollow, Lake Highlands, Vickery Meadow, Plano, Carrollton, Lakewood, Farmers Branch and Buckingham by providing care to women through all stages of life. Our physicians are diverse in medical specializations as well as diverse in culture: we speak English, Spanish, Hebrew, Vietnamese and ASL. Contact us today for an appointment at 972-566-7009.