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How Often Should You Get A Pap Smear Test?

Dr. Vandana Jain 90% (62 ratings)
MS - Obstetrics and Gynaecology, MBBS
Gynaecologist, Ghaziabad  •  20 years experience
How Often Should You Get A Pap Smear Test?

Regular preventive check ups are a must for being healthy and if you wait too long between check ups, it may become too late to detect a problem. Cervical cancer screening is especially important for women via a pap smear test, as it's the best way to detect cancer.

A Pap test is done to screen any changes in the cells of the cervix, including cervical cancer or conditions that may develop into cancer. Doctors recommend that Pap smear testing should begin at the age of 21 for women, and should be done every 3-5 years for women between the ages of 21 to 65 years.

For women between ages 30 - 65 years, the test can be done once in five years, if it is combined with testing for HPV. A doctor may recommend frequent Pap smear tests if a person is diagnosed with cervical cancer, HIV infection or a weak immune system caused due to organ transplant or chemotherapy.

When can you discontinue Pap smear Tests?
If you are sexually active, doctors may ask you to continue your Pap smear tests even after the age of 65. Women can discontinue Pap smear tests after getting a total hysterectomy. However, some women may still have to undergo the test if they have had the surgery for cervical or uterine cancers or if you are a high risk patient with HIV or have a weakened immune system. In these cases, women will have to continue getting Pap smear tests. Even if you stop getting Pap smear tests, it's advisable to keep getting regular pelvic tests.

What symptoms to watch out for between Pap smear tests?

  • Pain is not an early warning sign of the disease, and not all people experience pain while suffering from cancer of the cervix. The symptoms to watch out for are abnormal bleeding in the cervix, which is one of the most common symptoms of cancer in cervix. If you get bleeding between your regular menstrual periods and after sexual intercourse that it is another sign that you should get a Pap smear done to check for cancer in the cervix.
  • Abnormal vaginal discharge is another symptom of cancer of the cervix. You must get these symptoms checked from your doctor via a Pap smear test.
  • It is advisable to discuss with your doctor and decide how frequently you need to decide what's best for you based on different risk factors.
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