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When does my teenage daughter need a Pap smear?

As a practicing Ob/Gyn providing healthcare for female patients, I often get this question from mothers regarding their tween/teenage daughters.  Though the guidelines for requiring the first Pap smear have changed, to start at age 21, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends the first 'reproductive health visit' at ages 13-15.  This initial visit may not require a pelvic exam, unless your daughter is having menstrual difficulties (pelvic pain, menstrual cramping, abnormal/heavy periods) or is sexually active.  Contraceptive options, STD prevention, and the HPV vaccine may be discussed at this visit.


Here is an excerpt from my previous post, "Tips to Prepare for your visit with the Gynecologist"/Teen concerns:


Does my teenage daughter need a Pap smear?

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends the first reproductive health visit between 13-15 years of age.  In most cases this will be a counseling appointment (just talking) to discuss their menstrual history, explain anatomy and STD prevention, to address contraceptive needs…and may not involve an actual pelvic examination.  Once sexually active, the pelvic exam is recommended to screen for STDs, and may be necessary if complaints of pelvic pain or abnormal bleeding are present.  Current guidelines suggest the actual Pap smear (done during the pelvic exam) is not necessary until 21 years of age or later.  It’s important to understand the difference between the pelvic exam (visual and manual examination of the pelvic structures) and the Pap smear (a swab of cells collected from the cervix to screen for cervical cancer.)



Suzanne Hall, MD (@drsuzyyhall)

Eastside Gynecology Obstetrics, PC

Offices in Grosse Pointe, Roseville, Macomb, Rochester MI

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