Anyone over the age of 25 with a cervix who has ever been sexually active, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, needs to be screened for cervical cancer. Talk to your healthcare provider about what’s right for you.
If you are transgender and were assigned male at birth
You may not have given much thought to having a Pap test or your risk of getting cervical cancer. If you haven’t had bottom surgery, you’re not at risk of developing cervical cancer. But if you’ve had bottom surgery to create a vagina and possibly a cervix, you may want to think more about screening for cervical cancer. There isn’t much information about cervical cancer in trans women because the risk of cancer depends on the type of tissue used to create your vagina and cervix. Here are some things to consider:
- If you’ve had bottom surgery, there’s a small risk that cancer can develop in the tissues of your neo-vagina or neo-cervix. For this reason, it’s important to talk to your healthcare provider and consider having regular Pap tests.
- You may be at a higher risk of cervical cancer if you have a history of HPV infections or have a condition that weakens your immune system, like HIV.
If you are transgender and were assigned female at birth
If you have a cervix, it’s important to think about cervical cancer screening no matter where you are on the transmasculine/female to male gender spectrum.
If you’ve had a hysterectomy
You may still need to be screened for cervical cancer. Here are some things to consider:
- If you’ve had a hysterectomy or a partial hysterectomy that left your cervix intact, you should have regular Pap tests.
- If you’ve had a complete hysterectomy that included the removal of your cervix and you have no history of abnormal Pap tests, you may not need regular Pap tests.
- If you’ve had a complete hysterectomy that included the removal of your cervix and you have a history of abnormal Pap tests, you may still need regular testing. Similar to a Pap test, a sample of cells is taken from your vaginal vault and sent to the lab for testing (sometimes referred to as a vault smear).
If you’re on testosterone
You should still have regular cervical cancer screening if you’re taking testosterone. Testosterone can sometimes cause changes in the cells of your cervix that look like pre-cancerous cells. It’s very important that your healthcare provider and the lab know that you’re taking testosterone because hormones can affect your Pap test results.
It can be difficult to make cervical screening a priority, especially if you’re concerned about experiencing discrimination. Talk to your healthcare provider about your personal screening needs and ways to make screening more comfortable for you.