What is a PAP smear?

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It is important for all women to have Pap smears, along with pelvic exams, as part of their routine health care.

  • Women who are 21 or older need a Pap smear.
  • Women who have gone through menopause (when a woman’s period stop) still need regular Pap smears.
  • Women ages 65 and older can talk to their doctor about foregoing Pap smears after having at least 3 normal Pap tests and no abnormal results in the last 10 years.

The Pap smear checks for changes in cervical cells. The cervix is the lower part of the uterus (womb) that opens into the vagina (birth canal). The Pap smear can detect infections, abnormal (unhealthy) cervical cells, or cervical cancer.

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