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Navigate: FAQ Home Page > Female -- Ob/Gyn Visits > Do I need a Pap Smear at 18?
I modify that slightly in my practice. Let me tell you a little more about Pap Smears and then you will be able to make your own choice.
Pap Smears screen for Cervical Cancer. Pap Smears are a wonderful test. Before we started doing Pap Smears Cervical Cancer was almost as common as Breast Cancer. Now there are almost no deaths from Cervical Cancer.
Cervical Cancer is caused, in most cases, by a sexually transmitted disease--Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). HPV also causes Venereal Warts but frequently women have HPV without having any warts. Once someone catches HPV they have it for life. Incidentally while condoms help prevent HPV they aren't completely effective.
Women who have NEVER had sex can't have HPV. If someone doesn't have HPV then they probably won't get cervical cancer. Therefore when my patients ask me this same question I tell them I am comfortable waiting a while before we start doing Pap Smears. Usually at some point in your 20's I would recommend a complete exam.
Barbara Boyer , D.O.