Sexual Health news - Sexual Health and Behavior

ACOG releases new guidelines for cervical cancer screenings

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recently released new guidelines on how often women should receive Pap smears to test for cervical cancer. Previously, healthcare professionals advised females who are either sexually active or 21 years of age or older to undergo the screening once a year. However, now the ACOG is saying that it is only necessary every three to five years for most women, HealthDay reported.

The Pap test and human papillomavirus (HPV) test are the two screenings that can catch cervical cancer early. In the U.S., experts project that more than 12,000 new cases will be diagnosed in 2012, and approximately 4,200 deaths will occur as a result of the cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute.

According to the new guidelines, women between the ages of 30 and 65 only need to be screened for HPV - which is the most common sexually transmitted disease - every five years. Those who are between 21 and 29 years old should be screened every three years, compared to the previous recommendation of every two years. In addition, younger females do not need to be screened at all because cervical cancer is not commonly diagnosed in this age group.

Although these recommendations require less testing, it should not be seen as an excuse for women to forgo regular physicals that include pelvic exams.

"We really need to highlight to the women we treat that just because we recommend a Pap test every three to five years doesn't mean you only see your doctor every three to five years," gynecologic oncologist Elizabeth Poynor told HealthDay.