Remember Julie Andrews in the Sound of Music? One particular favorite was a song about her favorite things. Raindrops on roses, and whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles, and warm woolen mittens. I don’t think getting a pap smear was included in that list.
You know the drill. You undress from the waist down and put your feet in the stirrups. The doctor then inserts a speculum that opens the vagina, and checks for cervical cancer or infection. If you have vaginal dryness, the test can be painful.
It’s probably not on your top 10 list, but if you want to stay healthy in menopause, you need to schedule an appointment. Here are 3 good reasons to have a pap smear in menopause:
If you’re HIV positive, receiving chemotherapy, or had an organ transplant, your immune system may be weaker, so having regular pap smears can detect changes before they get out of hand.
Abnormal Pap Smears
Most abnormal pap smears are caused by the Human papillomavirus (HPV). You are more likely to get the HPV if you don’t practice safe sex such as using a condom, or having just one sexual partner. If you smoke and have HPV, you’re more likely to have an abnormal pap smear.
Yeast or bacterial infections can also cause an abnormal pap smear.
If you had a total hysterectomy (removal of cervix and ovaries), most doctors still encourage you to schedule regular pap smears. This is particularly important if you’ve had a history of cervical or other uterine cancers, because you’re still at risk for vaginal cancer.
Even if your doctor doesn’t think you need pap smears, he may suggest you schedule annual pelvic exams.