When to get your first pap smear

As a young woman who is constantly changing and growing, your reproductive health matters so it’s vital that you get the appropriate medical care. One of the things you’ll need to start thinking about when the time comes, is getting a pap smear. A pap smear is an internal examination of your reproductive organs and it helps to detect any issues that may affect your cervix. Here’s more information on when you’re likely to get your first pap smear.

When to get your first pap smear

The recommended age for getting a pap smear is after you turn 21. If you’re under the age of 21 then you don’t have to worry much about getting a pap smear. But if you’re under 21 and sexually active, then a pap smear every 3 years is necessary.  If you’re between the ages of 21 to 29, getting a pap smear once every 3 years is also recommended.

Why is a pap smear important?

It’s totally normal for you to associate a visit to the doctor with sickness and you may not understand why you’re supposed to have your cervix checked, but here’s why:

Sometimes you won’t get accurate answers regarding your reproductive health from your friends, teacher or google. But a gynaecologist or a nurse from your local clinic will give you more accurate and informed answers to your questions.

In some instances, a pap smear might include a screening for HPV– a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) which causes cervical cancer.

You can learn more about safe sex, preventing sexually transmitted disease, pregnancy and if necessary, the treatment needed for pain or other reproductive problems. Gynaecologists are specialists in women’s reproductive health so they are often the best ones to give you advice.

A pap test can save your life as a woman because it can reduce your chances of getting cervical cancer, and it may help your doctor detect cancerous cells – which, if detected early enough, can help you beat cervical cancer.

Pap smears are an important part of your reproductive health – especially once you become sexually active. It’s important to take care of your overall health, and this includes your vaginal health. If you can’t afford to consult a private gynaecologist, your local clinic should offer free pap smear tests. You can also check at Clicks or Dis-Chem Pharmacies whether they offer pap smears at an affordable rate.

Remember, if you or a friend need advice or help, you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send me a Facebook Message, a Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).