Cervical cancer screening is an essential discussion for any healthcare setting, and home birth midwifery practice is no exception. Since January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, we want to talk with you a little bit about what cervical cancer screening is, and the current recommendations.
Cervical cancer screening generally consists of a Pap smear and/or HPV screening, both of which are collected with a gentle scrape of the cervix during a speculum exam. To follow are the current ACOG recommendations for cervical cancer screening:
- If you are younger than 21 years—You do not need screening.
- If you are aged 21–29 years— Have a Pap test every 3 years.
- If you are aged 30–65 years—You can choose one of three options:
- Have a Pap test and an HPV test (co-testing) every 5 years
- Have a Pap test alone every 3 years
- Have an HPV test alone every 5 years
If you are 65 years or older—You do not need screening if you have no history of cervical changes and either three negative Pap test results in a row or two negative co-test results in a row within the past 10 years, with the most recent test performed within the past 5 years. – ACOG
There may be some reasons to have more frequent screening, such as if you have a history of HPV, abnormal Paps or cervical cancer, have a weakened immune system, HIV, or were exposed to diethylstilbestrol before birth.
When you are seeing us for midwifery care, you have the option to get your cervical cancer screening in our office at your final postpartum visit, if you are due for your Pap smear. If you are not due for screening when you are in our care, we can refer you to another provider in the area who offers routine cervical cancer screening.
Early detection of cervical cancer is important to give people the best chance of effective treatment and survival. It is important to remember to get our regular screenings, even though we are super busy and distracted through all of the childbearing years. Your provider can help you set up a good schedule, and send you reminders.
For more information about ACOG recommendations for cervical cancer screening, visit their website here.