How Often Do You Need a Pap Smear?

how often do you need a pap smear
credit: cottonbro

For years, we were told that those of us with vaginas needed to get an annual pap smear. But is that still necessary? Turns out the rules have changed.

According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, you now only need a pap test every three years when you’re between the ages of 21 and 65.


But, don’t get too excited yet.

Just because you no longer need a pap smear every year doesn’t mean you don’t still need an annual gyno check-in. Gyno appointments often include other examinations like breast exams, abdomen exams, and sometimes STI screening so ditching your appointment isn’t the best idea.

On top of that, if you’re struggling with any unusual symptoms down there — itchiness, foul-smelling discharge, burning, etc., then you definitely are going to want to make an appointment ASAP. These symptoms could be indicative of things like yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis, or other infections that need addressing.

If you’ve never been to the gyno before, no worries. Here’s some information on everything you can expect from your first appointment to help soothe your anxiety.

In the meantime, make sure you care for your vagina and vulva in between appointments, keep track of your menstrual cycles, and practice safe sex.


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