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Pap Smear

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Jul 7, 2024.

What do I need to know about a Pap smear?

A Pap smear, or Pap test, is used to screen for cervical cancer. It is also used to find precancerous and cancerous cells of the vulva and vagina.

How do I prepare for a Pap smear?

The best time to schedule the test is right after your period stops. Do not have a Pap smear during your monthly period.

What will happen during a Pap smear?

What will happen after a Pap smear?

You may have some spotting the day of your procedure.

What do my test results mean?

Your healthcare provider will tell you when you can expect your Pap smear results. It usually takes about 1 to 3 weeks.

How often do I need to get a Pap smear?

Pap smears usually start at age 21 and continue until age 65. A Pap smear alone may be done every 3 years. An HPV test alone or with a Pap smear may be done every 5 years, starting at age 30. You may need Pap smears more often or continuing after age 65 if you have any of the following:

When should I call my doctor?

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.