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Allow us to introduce you to our new health series “Ask Dr. Renee.” Twice a month Dr. Renee will answer a health question that pertains to women and often black women specifically. Her column will be published every other Tuesday. If you have a question, you’d like for Dr. Renee to answer, please e-mail us at 

Do virgins need to have pap smears and at what age?

In 2014 the term virgin means different things to different people. To some young ladies virgin means no sex of any kind, and some believe it means no vaginal sex, anal sex, oral and fingering. Many girls as young as elementary age decided that allowing boys to manually manipulate their vagina (finger them) was safer than intercourse. This is NOT TRUE if he has semen on his finger she could still become pregnant and she could contract Human Papilloma Virus, which is a sexually transmitted disease that causes cervical cancer. There are 100 different types of HPV and 60 cause warts on the hands and feet and the other 40 are sexually transmitted thru mucus membranes. In recent years there have been cases of cervical cell changes due to fingering. Therefore some “virgins” definitely need to have pap smears. There are vaccines that guard against HPV and it’s become so prevalent, it’s recommended parents vaccinate their children early.

Why should I vaccinate my child?

HPV infection can be acquired from just one sex partner, so it has nothing to do with promiscuity. This is why it is important to vaccinate before the child begins having sex. Cervical cancer is the 2nd leading cause of cancer deaths among women around the world. In the US 12,000 women get cervical cancer a year and 4,000 are expected to die from it.

HPV vaccine is given as a 3-dose series

  • 1st Dose: Now
  • 2nd Dose: 1 to 2 months after Dose 1
  • 3rd Dose: 6 months after Dose 1

Additional (booster) doses are not recommended.

Catch-Up vaccination

The vaccine is also recommended for girls and women 13 through 26 years of age who did not get all 3 doses when they were younger.


Signs and symptoms of cervical cancer?

Cervical cancer is often a silent killer. If you have any of the following symptoms you may not necessarily have cervical cancer but you should definitely talk to your doctor to make certain that it is something else.

  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding, such as bleeding after sex (vaginal intercourse), bleeding after menopause, bleeding and spotting between periods, and having longer or heavier (menstrual) periods than usual. Bleeding after douching, or after a pelvic exam is a common symptom of cervical cancer but not pre-cancer.
  • An unusual discharge from the vagina − the discharge may contain some blood and may occur between your periods or after menopause.
  • Pain during sex (vaginal intercourse).


How do you test for Cervical Cancer?

Pap Smear (Pap Test) is a test for precancerous cell changes on the cervix that may become cervical cancer if they are not treated. This test should be performed every 3 years starting at age 21-29 after age 30 cotesting with HPV and Pap Smear every 5 years. In the past physicians performed these exams annually. The new guideline suggests that annual testing is not necessary.  Please have a discussion with your doctor about what is best for you. It is recommended that these tests are no longer administered after 65 years of age and in the event of a total hysterectomy for benign reason. Research has shown that Pap Test cervical cancer screening has largely decreased the incidence of cervical cancer deaths.


In my medical opinion at 21 years old virgins (women who abstain for all sexual behavior) should have their first Pap Smear. If your child is engaging in any type of sex she needs to have a Pap Smear. In 2014 some little girls and little boys are engaging in sexual activity and do not realize that even though it is not vaginal sex they are still putting themselves at risk. For this reason I would suggest you start educating them early so you can decide if and when it is necessary for them to have a Pap Smear. What are your thoughts on this subject? Are you a parent of a little girl or are you a virgin yourself that has not had a pap smear? Share your thoughts below.

If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to Ask Dr. Renee.

Twitter: @AskDrRenee


Dr. Renee Matthews has appeared on television shows such as “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and WGN’s “People to People”  where she discussed different health topics. She started her media career with her own radio show on Sirius XM/ReachMD, a programming source for health professionals. In addition Dr. Renee has been a featured medical correspondent on Sirius XM’s “Sway in the Morning.” 

Dr. Renee earned her undergraduate degree in 1999 and her Medical Doctorate in 2005. She spent the early part of her medical career as an educator for numerous hospitals and attending staff on cord blood.

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