It’s one of those things women know they need but definitely don’t look forward to: the Pap smear. This screening for cervical cancer might not be very high on your list of things you like to do, but it can save your life.
Fortunately, you might not need to get a Pap test as frequently as you think. Here at LUNA MED SPA & WASHINGTON OB-GYN, P.A., in San Antonio, Texas, Dr. Jerome Washington and Valerie Calzada, MSN, RN, FNP-C, can help you determine how frequently you should get this important screening. And we can incorporate it into your annual well woman visit whenever you need it.
So, how frequently should you get a Pap smear? Let’s find out.
Annual Pap smears are a thing of the past. As a general rule, once you turn 21 and until you turn 65, you should get a Pap smear every three years. But a lot of the ideal timing for this screening depends on you.
Until you turn 30, you should probably continue the triennial Pap timeline. From 30 to 65, you have options. If you get a Pap smear with an HPV test, which we also offer at our office, you can go five years between cervical cancer screenings from age 30 until you’re 65.
Also, although many women stop getting Pap smears when they turn 65, this might not be the right choice for you. If you’re sexually active with multiple partners, you may want to continue this screening. And if you’ve had abnormal cervical cells in the past, we may also recommend that you continue getting screened for cervical cancer.
All of the above guidelines assume that you don’t have a heightened risk for cervical cancer. But there are some instances when our team recommends more frequent screenings or starting to get regular Pap smears before you turn 21.
Specifically, if you have a greater risk of cervical cancer than the average woman, we might schedule your Pap test earlier and more often. We usually recommend this for women who:
We also recommend getting a Pap smear more often if you have a mother who received diethylstilbestrol (DES). This is a hormone that was given to pregnant women between 1940 and 1971.
All told, the right Pap smear timeline depends on several factors that are unique to you. To figure out which schedule is best to protect yourself from cervical cancer — or to schedule a Pap smear and/or HPV test — call our office or book an appointment online.