Ask the Doctor
November 20, 2012

Can I get cervical cancer if I am a 30-year-old virgin?

Dear Doc,

I am 30 years old and never had sex. I was told that cervical cancer is caused by a virus that women get when they have sex. Do I have to get regular pap-smears?{{more}}


Dear June,

It is true that the human papilloma virus (HPV) has strong links to a woman developing cervical cancer. The chief way of a woman contracting the virus is through intercourse.

Despite the above facts, it does not tell the entire story. First it must be understood that the HPV is not the only reason for developing cervical cancer. There are other normal changes of the cells of the cervix that can result in the development of a cancer. During an assessment of the cervix the taking of the smear is only one aspect of the procedure. The nurse or doctor also examines the walls of the vagina and can get information on infection, which has no link to intercourse.

The recommendation is that pap-smears should be done three years after first sexual intercourse or from age eighteen or which is first. It is important that you tell your nurse or doctor if you are sexually active or not, so that they will use an appropriate size speculum that will not be uncomfortable.



SVG Cancer Society,
P.O. Box 709, Kingstown.
Phone: 526-7036