Annual wellness visits for women include a pelvic exam, during which your doctor visually and physically checks you’re reproductive system. You may also need a pelvic exam if you're experiencing symptoms such as unusual vaginal discharge or pelvic pain.
Your provider may also do a Pap smear with your pelvic exam. A Pap smear is performed by collecting cells from your cervix to screen for cervical cancer. Having an annual Pap smear is the best way to screen for cervical cancer; early detection gives you more treatments options and a better chance of a cure. A Pap smear can also detect changes in your cervical cells that suggest cancer may develop in the future.
A Pap Smear test is recommended for all women between the ages of 21 and 65 years old. Medical recommendations are evolving, your provider will determine if a Pap Smear is necessary at your annual visit.