A Pap smear, also known as Pap test or Papanicolaou test, is a screening procedure used to detect abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix, which is the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina. Pap smears are a crucial component of cervical cancer screening and are often performed as part of routine gynecological exams.
The frequency of Pap smears may vary depending on factors such as age, medical history, and risk factors. In recent years, the practice of combining Pap smears with HPV testing has become more common for a more comprehensive evaluation of cervical health.The collected cells are usually placed on a glass slide or in a liquid solution to preserve them for laboratory analysis.
Starting Age: Pap smears are typically recommended to begin at age 21, regardless of sexual activity.
Ages 21 to 29: Every three years.
Every three years with a Pap smear alone, or
Every five years with a Pap smear combined with human papillomavirus (HPV) testing (co-testing).
Hysterectomy with Cervix Removal: In most cases, Pap smears are not needed after a total hysterectomy (removal of the uterus and cervix) for benign conditions.
Hysterectomy with Cervix Preservation: If the cervix is preserved, Pap smears are still recommended based on the woman’s age and other factors.