Women's Health Topics

What does Pap mean?

A Papanicolaou test, or Pap smear, screens against cervical cancer. The test is typically part of a woman’s annual gynecological pelvic exam.

To perform a Pap smear, the OB/GYN doctor takes a brushing of cells from the cervix and sends them off to the laboratory to be examined under a microscope. The microscopic examination looks for any abnormal cells that could be precancerous.

Pap smear guidelines have changed in recent years. The new guidelines published by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists lengthened the screening interval. Now women are encouraged to attain a Pap smear every three to five years, if they’ve had no recent history of abnormal Pap smears. The new guidelines also recommend women begin Pap smears at 21 years of age.

A woman can end her Pap smears at age 65 if her recent Pap smears have been normal.

Dr. Anna Igler
Dr. Anna Igler is a board certified OB/Gyn specialist.