Here’s How Often You Really Need to Get a Pap Smear

Originally Published on Aug 26, 2020 Health & Fitness | By Rachael Schultz

The exam is crucial to detecting cervical cancer early — but the guidelines keep changing. Here’s what you need to know.

Pap smears used to be super straightforward: You’d get the exam every time you had your annual wellness check-up with your ob-gyn. But like everything with women’s health, the guidelines have become more complicated.

Now, the simple question of, “When was your last Pap?” can give a girl as much pause as, “How many sexual partners have you had?”

But a Pap smear is definitely one of those non-negotiables you need to be diligent about keeping track of: “It’s important to get regular pap smear screening in order to identify your risk for pre-cancer and cancer of the cervix that can be treated if caught early,” says Sherry Ross, M.D., ob-gyn and women’s health expert at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, CA.

Here, everything you need to know about how often you should really be getting a Pap.

What Exactly Is a Pap Smear?

A Pap smear is a screening test to look for cancer and pre-cancerous cells in the cervix. Your ob-gyn will use a “broom” to sweep the face of the cervix, and then insert a brush into a specific part of your cervix called the os, Dr. Ross explains. The broom and brush are then sent off to a lab to be tested for any abnormal cells. | | | Next → |

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