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Women between the ages of 21 and 65 need to have pap smears to test for abnormal cervical cells that can lead to cervical cancer. Within that age range are a variety of contributing factors that women take into account when scheduling exams.
Ages 21 Through 29
Between the ages of 21 and 29, women should have a pap smear every three years, as long as test results are consistently negative. If an abnormal pap smear occurs during this time, you’ll work with your healthcare provider to establish a personalized testing schedule, if necessary.
Ages 30 Through 65
From 30 to 65 years, women need Pap tests every three years. The only exception is women who have a pap smear and HPV test together. Administering the tests together extends the time between testing to five years.
Ages 66 and Older
After age 65, women who’ve had three consecutive Pap smears with no abnormal findings no longer need testing. However, women who are 65 and older who’ve never had a pap smear do need testing. Women in this situation should speak their healthcare provider to find out if a pap smear is required.
Hysterectomy and Pap Smears
Women who have had a hysterectomy don’t need to have a pap smear test if there is no history of abnormal test results. A hysterectomy most often includes the removal of the cervix and a pap smear is a test of cervical cells. However, the decision is one that women make alongside their healthcare provider.