It can be a challenge to know how frequently you need to have a Pap smear, but it is an extremely important test when it comes to women’s health. Pap smears can help your doctor find any potential issues before they become serious. The test helps doctors identify any abnormal or precancerous cells, which can be an early sign of cervical cancer, HPV, or other problems.
The procedure itself is virtually painless, whether you go to a gynecology office in Houston or have it done by your regular physician. The important thing is to have the test done often enough to identify problems quickly when they can be most easily treated. If you’re not sure what happens during a Pap test, we encourage you to contact Women’s Healthcare Associates at our Houston, TX, office. We’ll be glad to tell you more.
General Pap Test Guidelines
The first question to answer when it comes to Pap testing is what age you should begin having them. As with anything, the best guideline is to consult with your physician, but most women are advised to start testing no later than age 21. You can have them done by your regular doctor, or if you prefer, you can go to a gynecologist.
Generally, Pap smears don’t have to be done annually. Women aged 21 to 65 can schedule them every three years if they have has normal results from the previous test. If you are 30 years of age or older, you can consider getting them done every five years, but only if they are combined with a test for HPV. Once a woman reaches the age of 65, regular Pap tests can be discontinued if results have been normal.
An abnormal Pap test may result in a more frequent testing schedule for women of any age. Please consult with your physician or gynecologist’s office to find out how often you should go for testing after an abnormal test.
Other things can come into play when it comes to how often a woman should be tested. Certain risk factors, such as HIV, organ transplantation, and chemotherapy, may require a change in Pap test frequency. Again, a physician is in the best position to evaluate these individual situations.
Screening Saves Lives
It’s important to know how often you should go for a Pap smear. Regular testing can save lives, as this test finds abnormal cells and precancerous cells easily—and early. It also bears mention that getting an abnormal Pap test result doesn’t mean you have cancer: It simply means some of the cells that were collected are not normal cells. You may need to be retested, or your doctor might want to consult with you in person to go over the results.
If you need more information about when you should get a Pap smear, please don’t hesitate to contact Women’s Healthcare Associates for additional clarification. We’re always happy to help you figure out when you should schedule your next appointment.
Call to learn more about Pap smears.