Women's Health Texas – San Antonio

Pap Smear Guidelines

Understanding the Pap smear guidelines

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has pap test guidelines regarding how often women need cervical cancer screening. Our San Antonio OBGYNs recommend that each patient talk with her doctor to learn more about these Pap smear guidelines.

The Pap smear guidelines address how to screen for cervical cancer

Women should begin receiving screening for cervical cancer with a Pap test at age 21. They should have the test every three years after that through age 29.

Women ages 30 to 69 will receive co-testing, having both a Pap test and an HPV test, every five years. In contrast, a woman may have a Pap test without an HPV test every three years.

Per the Pap smear guidelines, most women ages 65 and over may stop having a Pap test if they have no history of cancer. If these women have had two negative co-tests or three negative Pap tests within the last 10 years, with their most recent test having occurred within the past five years, they may discontinue having Pap tests.

What happens during a Pap test?

This test is usually performed during a pelvic examination. You will place your feet in the stirrups of the exam table. Your doctor will gently insert a lubricated instrument called a speculum into the vagina. It will open up to allow your doctor to see your cervix and take cell samples from it. The cells that your doctor collects during the Pap test are placed on a slide and sent to a laboratory to be tested.

You may feel some very mild discomfort during the examination, but your doctor will talk to you during this quick test and help you feel as comfortable as possible. Some women experience some mild cramping after the test.

Your San Antonio OBGYNs are your best resource for complete information the Pap smear guidelines. Contact us to make an appointment to discuss women’s wellness and testing. We can also provide more information about the Pap test guidelines.