How Often Should You Undergo a Pap Smear?

Patient with a Doctor for a Pap Smear

Undergoing a pap smear is more than just an inspection of the vaginal cavity. Using tools called vaginal speculums, the gynecologist can perform a visual assessment of the vagina and cervix. The speculum can also help with identifying cells that may turn into cancerous ones.

But how often should a woman undergo Pap smear? Here is what you need to know, especially for all the younger women out there.

The Basics

Gynecologists follow an age bracket for determining Pap smear frequency. For women aged 21 to 65, the recommended frequency is once every three years. For women 30 and up (and looking for HPV testing as well), Pap smear should be done every five years.

But keep in mind that these are all general recommendations. Certain circumstances might merit for less- or more frequent assessments. Pap smear is critical for the early discovery of conditions like cervical cancer. If such go through detection early, you can treat it.

For parents of adolescent girls, there are several considerations before your daughters undergo a pap test. You should have the test done as soon as the girls admit to being sexually active. If not, the recommendation is that they do so at age 21.

This is due to the vulnerability of sexually active adolescents to the human papilloma virus (HPV), a virus that causes most cervical cancers.

Menopausal Pap Tests

For older women, it might be easy to tend to avoid pap tests. Long story short, a Pap smear is still important even beyond the age of 65. Menopausal or post-menopausal women should also undergo pap tests especially if they are patients of a total hysterectomy for a noncancerous condition.

But if a woman has had no abnormal Pap tests within the last ten years up to 65 years old, a Pap smear is no longer necessary.

These are just some of the pieces of basic information about pap smears. Visit your doctor to learn more.