- Some worry that STDs, teen pregnancies could go up without Pap tests to prompt doctor’s visit
- New guidelines say young women can postpone cervical cancer screening until age 21
- The guidelines still recommend that girls who are under 21 see a gynecologist
(Health.com) — Teen girls can skip Pap tests, according to new guidelines that say women should start cervical cancer screening at age 21. But some experts are concerned that rates of sexually transmitted diseases or unplanned pregnancies could increase without the Pap test to prompt a doctor’s visit.
As it stands, as many as one in four U.S. teenage girls has had an STD at some point in her life, often soon after she becomes sexually active, according to research published this week in Pediatrics.
“I am concerned that without the recommendation for young women to get Pap smears early on, they will lose important opportunities to seek advice and to learn about their health — particularly their sexual health — at a time in their lives when they need it most,” says Kimberly Spector, an adolescent health educator in Los Angeles, California. “Regardless of the tests performed during a gynecologist visit, the conversation regarding sexual health risks and preventative measures can be very informative and empowering for young patients.”