Reproductive Health Exam/Pap Smear

Periodic reproductive health maintenance visits are also available at the SHC. This will include a review of the patient's reproductive health related medical history and may include a physical exam and lab testing only as indicated by medical history, symptoms, age, and other factors.

Routine screening for cervical cancer is recommended starting at age 21 with a Pap test every 3 years.  Individuals age 30 to 65 years who want to lengthen the screening interval may have routine screening with a combination of cytology (Pap) and human papillomavirus (HPV) testing every 5 years. At the SHC, these lab tests are sent out to Quest Labs and therefore require payment of an additional fee. Call (707) 664-2921 for current pricing.

Cervical cancer is most often caused by certain strains of HPV, a common sexually transmitted infection that can occur without symptoms. The immune systems of most people eliminate HPV without negative health consequences. Only a small fraction of individuals with persistent HPV infection develop cervical abnormalities that could lead to cancer, and this takes many years.  Screening in accordance with the following guidelines provides a framework for achieving very low cancer rates while avoiding over-screening that can lead to false positives and the unnecessary potentially harmful medical interventions that can result.

Current Routine Cervical Cancer Screening Recommendations:

  • Age <21:  should not be screened for cervical cancer (or HPV). Cervical cancer is extremely rare in this age group because the immune systems of those under 21 spontaneously clear HPV infections over a period of months. Transient infections in this age group are not associated with cervical cancer risk and are not a reason for medical intervention.

  • Ages 21–29:  should receive routine screening every three years.  This is typically done by conventional Pap testing alone.  HPV testing should not be done in those under 30, because HPV is typically transient and not related to a risk of cervical cancer in this age group.  Significant harms can result from unnecessary HPV screening in those under 30.

  • Ages 30–65:  can be routinely screened by conventional pap at three year intervals. If individuals in this age group wish to extend the time between testing to five year intervals, they can elect to have a Pap test combined with HPV testing.

  • Screening should be discontinued in those older than 65 who have no history of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia, pre-cancerous findings, or cervical cancer and a recent history of normal Paps. Those who have had a hysterectomy with removal of the cervix and have no history of precancerous or cancerous findings should discontinue routine cervical cancer screening, regardless of age.

HPV vaccine for individuals under age 26 can reduce the risk of infection with Human Papilloma Virus.  Since this vaccine reduces but does not eliminate risk, HPV vaccinated individuals should follow the same cervical cancer screening guidelines as those that are unvaccinated.

**Individuals with a history of abnormal pap tests, cervical cancer, or who are HIV-positive, immunocompromised, or were exposed to diethylstilbestrol (DES) in utero may need more frequent screening than described below.  (Discuss this with your healthcare provider).

For more information visit ACOG Cervical Cancer Screening.

Scheduling an appointment

If you wish to schedule a visit for a Reproductive Health Exam, please review the below information and then call (707) 664-2921 to schedule an appointment.

  • Prior to your visit:
    • If you desire birth control, visit Planned Parenthood to review all birth control options. Birth control options available at the SHC include:
      • Birth Control Pill
      • Nuva Ring
      • Depo Provera
      • Condoms and Vaginal Film (available without prescription)
    • If you have previously had a Pap Test and/or STI testing, fill out and sign a Records Release Form and drop off at the Student Health Center prior to your appointment.
    • Read over the Reproductive Health Information
    • Avoid scheduling your Pap smear while you have your period (are menstruating) because blood and cells from the uterus may affect the accuracy of your test.
    • For 24 hours before the Pap test, avoid:  douching, having intercourse, and taking a bath.
    • Empty your bladder just before the test.