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Are Pap Smears Necessary After Having a Hysterectomy?

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Updated May 28, 2008

Women who have had a hysterectomy may still need to have regular Pap smears, depending on what type of hysterectomy was done and the reason it was needed. A hysterectomy is the surgical removal of the uterus. The uterus can be removed through the abdomen or vagina. A hysterectomy is often done to treat gynecological cancer, but it is also used to treat benign conditions, such as fibroids and endometriosis.

Abdominal Hysterectomy vs. Vaginal Hysterectomy

Women who have had an abdominal hysterectomy may still need regular Pap smears, because the cervix may still be intact. There are also instances where the cervix is removed during an abdominal hysterectomy.

Women who have had a vaginal hysterectomy, however, may not need to continue having regular Pap smears, because the cervix is always removed during a vaginal hysterectomy.

Hysterectomy Related to Cancer

It is recommended that women who have had a vaginal or abdominal hysterectomy to treat cancer continue getting regular Pap smears. A Pap smear is a highly effective means of cervical cancer screening, even when the cervix has been removed. Women who are at a high risk of developing cervical cancer should also be regularly screened, regardless of the type of hysterectomy performed.

Remember, most women should have annual pelvic exams, whether they need a Pap smear or not.

When in Doubt, Ask Your Doctor

Remember, your doctor is your best source of health information. After a hysterectomy, ask whether your cervix was retained or removed. Although your doctor may have clarified this prior to surgery, there are times when during surgery, the doctor decides to remove or keep the cervix. If you are unsure about whether your cervix has been removed or not, ask your doctor.

Source:

"Pap Test." WomensHealth.gov. Mar 2006. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 19 May 2008.
http://www.4woman.gov/faq/pap.htm#pap06

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