Getting a pap test is never fun, but according to a new review of data published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, pap smears — not HPV screenings — are the best way to detect and beat cervical cancer. Furthermore, scientists recommend that healthy young and middle-aged women with no prior cervical cancer history only get a pap test once every three years.
This report is much different than other groups' recommendations, including the American Cancer Society's, that women over the age of 30 have both regular pap tests and HPV screenings, according to USA Today. This is because not enough is known about the benefits and the harms of HPV testing, and that infections due to HPV are common in young women and usually go away on their own, and only pose a cancer risk when they last a year or more, according to the report. Therefore, too much testing can lead to emotional distress, and possibly unnecessary more invasive follow-up tests that can weaken the cervix and may cause women to have problems when having children later.
Jennipher Walters is the CEO and co-founder of the healthy living websites FitBottomedGirls.com and FitBottomedMamas.com. A certified personal trainer, lifestyle and weight management coach and group exercise instructor, she also holds an MA in health journalism and regularly writes about all things fitness and wellness for various online publications.