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How Often Do I Need To Get A Pap Smear?

doctor taking notes for when patient should have their next pap smear

Taking good care of your health is essential to preventing certain diseases and illnesses. Pap smears are one way that medical professionals can identify concerns as early as possible in women, allowing for the swift identification of the human papillomavirus that is the cause of most cervical cancers, also known as HPV. If you’re wondering, ‘how often do I need to get a pap smear?’, we cover all the essentials below.

What is a pap smear?

A pap smear is an older name for a routine test provided to women where cells on the cervix are taken as a sample to detect HPV. Today, this test is known as a cervical screening test and has replaced the previous pap smear process that was given to women aged between 18 to 69 every two years.

The National Cervical Screening Program offers testing to women between the ages of 25 to 74 every five years. During your cervical screening, you’ll be taken to a private space, and your healthcare provider will use a speculum and a swab to take a small sample from your cervix. This sample is then sent off to identify abnormal cells that may require further examination.

Why is a pap smear important?

Cervical screening is a critical regular health check, as a simple swab every five years can help to prevent cervical cancer. By finding abnormal cells early, healthcare providers can provide prompt treatment if required to save lives. Pap smears are also crucial if you have medical concerns other than HPV, where a trained doctor checks for other health issues through a more in-depth smear process.

Do I need to see the doctor for a smear?

While the cervical screening programme offers a self-collection option, you’ll still need to visit your healthcare provider to learn how to take the sample. You’ll then take the sample in private or with the support of a doctor, nurse or healthcare worker. This sample is then sent off in the same way as a traditional pap smear.

How often do I need to get a pap smear?

If you meet the following criteria, you’re eligible for a subsidised cervical screening test, and it’s advised that you should get one:

  • If you are aged between 25 and 74
  • If you’re sexually active now or have been before
  • If you have a cervix

When you turn 25, you’ll be eligible for your first test, and you’ll be able to book your appointment. Once you’ve completed your first smear, you’ll be able to screen every five years again until you exceed the age of 74. If you’ve previously had a pap test recently, you’ll typically wait two years after for your cervical screening appointment.

Book your pap smear today

If you’re overdue a pap smear or you’ve never had a cervical screening check we can ensure you receive the care you need. Book in with our friendly team at Mooney Street Medical today for a pap smear appointment.