A Pap smear is a test to screen for cervical cancer. Cervical cancer can be treated and cured if found early, however, a Pap smear does NOT screen for STDs other then HPV. If you are sexually active and you are at risk for STDs, you should have a yearly screening for Chlamydia, HIV, and other sexually transmitted infections. If you are not sure, you should ask your health care provider. If you are using hormonal contraception, including birth control pills, you should see your provider yearly for symptom review, blood pressure check, and an exam if indicated.
When do you need a Pap smear?
- Under age 21: No Pap smear screening is needed.
- Age 21-29: If you have no history of abnormal Pap smears: every three years.
- Age 30-65: If you have had three normal Pap test results in a row and no new partners: every 3-5 years. If you have no history of abnormal Paps but have not yet had three consecutive normal Paps or have had a new partner: every 2-3 years.
- All ages:
- If you have ever been treated for moderate or severe dysplasia of the cervix, you should have yearly Pap smears for 20 years.
- If you are HIV positive you should have a Pap smear every six months for a year after diagnosis and then every year.
- If you have a suppressed immune system you should have a Pap smear yearly.
- If you have been diagnosed with mild dysplasia, follow the recommendations of your health care provider.