Getting a Pap smear is extremely humiliating and uncomfortable for most women. In fact, I do not know anyone who looks forward to it. It is worse than the digital rectal exam – and men really deplore that. But the Pap is absolutely necessary for every woman, starting when she becomes sexually active or age 18, whichever is first. Though there is a vaccine for HPV, the virus that is responsible for many cervical cancers, it is not absolute protection, and young women need to be aware of this. For those who are not sexually active or at low risk of cervical cancer, experts recommend that they do not need annual Paps, but may decrease it to every 3 years. That is welcome news. However, if there is ever any abnormality, the frequency needs to be increased.
Unfortunately, when there is even a hint of bad news, most people like to run shy. It appears Ms. Goody is like many other women in this respect. But, hopefully, others will now learn that they need to investigate potential problems and face up to the consequences earlier than later. I admit that I’m one of those who have avoided getting a Pap for years. However, I have been lucky that I have never had an abnormal one. Still, it’s time I take the step and get back into the doctor’s office.