Do virgins need Pap smears?

Answer From Tatnai Burnett, M.D.

Yes. Doctors recommend routine cervical cancer screening, regardless of your sexual history. Tests used to screen for cervical cancer include the Pap test and the HPV test. Your doctor can help you understand whether one or both of these tests is best for you.

The purpose of a Pap test is to collect cells from the cervix. The cervix is the lower end of your uterus. The cells collected during the Pap test are analyzed in a lab to see if they're cancerous or if they have changes that might indicate an increased risk of cervical cancer.

The HPV test is done in a similar way, but the cells collected from the cervix are analyzed for the presence of a common sexually transmitted infection called human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is thought to cause most cervical cancers. If you've never had any type of sexual intercourse, you're unlikely to have HPV, but it's not impossible since other types of sexual contact can spread HPV.


Tatnai Burnett, M.D.

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Dec. 07, 2022 See more Expert Answers