How often should women get pap smears?

Over the years, I’ve had countless women assume that because they are coming to an “alternative” doctor, we have a crystal ball that can predict whether or not they will get cervical cancer. It’s great that women have confidence in me, but it’s very foolish for them to ignore their health in this way.

Case in point: I once had a 70-year-old woman who had been coming to our clinic for more than 30 years. (She is a long-time client of the doctor with whom I used to work.) She came to see us because she was experiencing “spotting,” not something that is normal in a 70-year-old woman.

We gave her a variety of homeopathic remedies and some herbal therapies. Over two weeks, it had not stopped — it hadn’t gotten worse either — nor had anything that we given her helped. So in our next appointment, I told her I thought she should visit her gynecologist to see what was going on.

Her reply: “I don’t have a gynecologist. You have been my doctor for 30 years.”

I gently informed her this wasn’t a good idea and that women need to have annual checkups. I insisted that she visit my gynecologist and gave her my doctor’s card. After her visit and a Pap smear, she got the diagnosis: Stage 3 Cervical Cancer.

Fortunately, her cancer was caught in time. They treated her aggressively with chemo and surgery. And, we supported her during that process by boosting her immune system with natural therapies specifically designed for cancer therapy. Today, she is alive and healthy and well. But that was a very important lesson for her and, hopefully, for you too…

As much as I love alternative and natural medicine, we have our limitations. In most states, Naturopaths cannot perform Pap smears on women. We do not possess the training, nor the medical equipment that is necessary to perform this important test.

The Pap smear (named after the Greek Dr. Georgios Papanicolaou) is a gynecological test to check for the presence of pre-malignant or malignant cells found on the cervix.

Women should get a pap smear every year so that doctors can catch cervical cancer before it’s too late.

As a Cervical Cancer survivor, I can attest to the importance of this test. And whether you’re 15 or 70, if you still have a cervix, it is important that you go in to your gynecologist and have an annual test. I know it is not our favorite visit to the doctor… These tests are invasive and not so much fun. But do it anyway!

My prior post on taking responsibility for your health talks about that very thing. Don’t leave it up to your current medical professional to make sure you are doing all you need to do.

It is up to YOU to ensure you’re doing all you need to do to ensure your health. Even if you have a long-standing relationship with a nutritionist, a naturopath, acupuncturist or chiropractor, those practitioners cannot take the place of a regular visit to the gynecologist, and they can’t perform this all-important test.

So be sure you schedule that visit. It’s 15 minutes, once a year. Do it for your health!