What is a pap smear versus a pelvic exam?
A pap smear screens for abnormal cells in the cervix that may lead to cancer if untreated. Usually, people have their first pap smear at age 21. A pelvic exam assesses the general health of the vagina, cervix, uterus, or rectum after the age of 21 unless (1) An IUD is inserted or removed, or (2) Symptoms such as vaginal or rectal itching, odor, or pain are present. Save this question to your favorites if you'd like to talk about it more with your healthcare provider.