Most women between the ages of 21 and 65 should have regular Pap smears.
- Women between the ages of 21 and 29 should be tested every three years.
- Women ages 30–65 can be tested every five years if the test is combined with an HPV test. If there is no HPV test, the Pap should be done every three years.
Screening is not recommended for women or girls under the age of 21. In this age group, the risk of cervical cancer is very low. Also, any changes in cervical cells are likely to go away on their own.
Screening may be recommended if you have certain risk factors. You may be at higher risk if you:
- Had an abnormal Pap smear in the past
- Have a weakened
- Were exposed to a drug called DES (Diethylstilbestrol) before birth. Between the years 1940–1971, DES was prescribed to pregnant women as a way to prevent miscarriages. It was later linked to an increased risk of certain cancers in the female children exposed to it during the pregnancy.
Women older than 65 who have had normal Pap smears for several years or have had
surgery to remove the uterus and cervix may not need to have Pap smears anymore. If you are unsure whether you need a Pap smear, talk to your health care provider.