A pap smear is a routine test that examines cervical cells and checks for abnormal cells that may lead to cancer. Pap smears also detect infections and cervical cancer. Treatment of the abnormal cells and infection help prevent cervical cancer. Pap smears are a vital key in women’s healthcare. Getting regular pap smears is the most effective way to prevent cervical cancer. Frequency of pap tests depend on your age and health history.
Pap smear screening should begin at age 21. The test is generally performed every two years. Women over 30 who have had 3 normal Pap tests consecutively may be able have a pap test every 3 years. Women over the age of 70 may be able to stop after at least 3 normal Pap tests and no abnormal results in the last 10 years. Women who have completed menopause need to continue with routine pap tests.
Your SOGA physician will discuss with you how frequently you will need a pap smear. Some women may have risk factors that may mean they need more frequent paps. All women should still see their gynecologist or womenshealth provider yearly to discuss general health, preventive tests, contraception, family planning and to have a yearly physical exam.