While none of us particularly enjoy getting a pap smear, a new study found that our collective resistance could lead to a higher undiagnosed rate of cervical cancer. According to a study by the University of Maryland School of Medicine, nearly 38% of those lesbians polled said they had not received a pap smear — and the corresponding test for cervical cancer — in the past year. Centers for Disease Control data says that just 13% of women overall had not gotten a pap smear in the last three years.
While lesbians are often given the message that the sex we have is at low-risk for sexually transmitted infections, the study's author told The Baltimore Sun that lesbians are still at risk and should take precautions.
"We know that HPV can be transmitted during same-sex sexual activity, so lesbians are at risk of developing cervical cancer," said J. Kathleen Tracy, an associate professor of epidemiology and public health at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and the study's lead author. "If these women aren't screened, they are at increased risk of getting this type of cancer by missing opportunities to identify precursor cervical abnormalities that can be treated."
Cervical cancer can be detected and prevented with regular checkups, routine in the recommended annual well-woman exam.