Most women have it drilled into them that they must get a Pap smear every year but now the annual ritual of getting a Pap smear is not necessarily annual. Initiation of Pap smears and recommendation for frequency of Pap smears have changed and a lot of women are confused by how often they need to get one. The American College of Gynecologists has issued very specific guidelines, which are as follows:
- Pap tests should begin at age 21
- From 21-30, it is fine to get a pap every 2 years instead of annually as long as you have had 3 normal pap tests in a row and are low risk, meaning you have never had moderate or severe dysplasia, cervical cancer, Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) or have a severe medical illness that compromises your immune system.
- After age 30, every 3 years is fine, but only if you are low risk.
- After age 70, you can cross Pap smears off your "to do" list as long as you have had a normal test for at least 10 years.