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Hi, My partner and I are deciding whether or not unprotected sex might be an option for us. We are both up to date on usual STI tests and I use a copper IUD as contraceptive. However, in the past we have both had unprotected sex so technically speaking, we could have been exposed to HPV. Knowing this, should I change how regularly I get my Pap test done? For that matter, does having multiple partners change how frequently you should get pap smears? Thanks!

Hi, and thanks for your question

You do not need to increase or change how frequently you get PAP screening done. The BC Cancer Agency sets these guidelines based on the current research and best practice. Their recommendation currently is for screening every 3 years after the age of 25. If they find anything unusual or atypical on a PAP test, they will make a recommendation for more frequent follow up at that time. So unless recommended otherwise, every 3 years is perfectly fine for you.

It’s also important to keep in mind that HPV is incredibly common and there are approximately 150 strains of the virus, most of which cause no harm and present no symptoms. The majority of sexually active adults will have at least one HPV infection during their lifetime and not even know about it. In fact, HPV is so common that we often refer to it as the “common cold of the genitals.” Our HPV Patient's Guide has lots of great information on HPV if you're interested. 

The most important thing you can do for yourself is to get a PAP screen every three years. You may also want to consider the HPV Vaccine (Gardasil-9) if the cost is not too prohibitive.

Let us know if this does not answer your question or if you have any more questions or concerns. Health Nurse

This answer was posted on January 28, 2020

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