A "Pap test," formerly known as a "Pap smear test," is a method of cervical testing used to detect any possible health issues in the female reproductive system. For many women, "going to your annual" is a phrase of the past. According to U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, the cervical cancer screening guidelines have changed for average-risk women.
- Starting at age 21:
- Women should have a Pap test every three years.
- At age 30:
- Women who have a normal Pap test and a negative HPV test, can go five years between screenings.
- At age 65:
- Women who have had normal Pap test results throughout life, can stop being screened.
- Post-hysterectomy women:
- Are recommended against screenings.
Just because a Pap test may be unnecessary, doesn't mean you should cancel your annual appointment. Use this valuable time with your provider to discuss health concerns and preventive measures.
These recommendations do not apply to women who have received a diagnosis of a high-grade precancerous cervical lesion or cervical cancer, women with in utero exposure to diethylstilbestrol, or women who are immunocompromised, or are HIV positive.