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Why Do I Need a Pap Smear?

Date: 01/01/23

Health screenings, like a Pap smear, can detect problems early and keep you healthy.

Cervical cancer happens most often in women over 30 years old, but all women are at risk. A Pap smear, also called Pap test, can check for signs of cervical cancer. Anyone can get cervical cancer. Screenings, like Pap smears, can catch it early and save your life. Cervical cancer is extremely preventable with screening tests. It is also very curable when found and treated early.

Louisiana Healthcare Connections members ages 21-64 earn $50 in healthy rewards when they complete their cervical cancer screening.

Cervical cancer is cancer that starts in your cervix, the narrow passageway between your uterus and your vagina. Most of the time it's caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is common and often does not have any symptoms. This is why screening for cervical cancer is so important.

Remember: Having a Pap smear is the best way to detect signs of cervical cancer.

Even if you are not sexually active right now, you should still have Pap smears. How often you should get a Pap smear depends on your age and health history. You may need Pap smears more often if you have certain health conditions.

Most women can follow these guidelines:

Ages 21 to 29: You should get a Pap smear every 3 years.

Ages 30 to 64: You should get a Pap smear and human papillomavirus (HPV) test together every 5 years or a Pap smear alone every 3 years.

Ages 65 and older: Ask your doctor if you can stop having Pap smears.

Women under 21 years of age may require screenings if medically necessary. Examples include having a weakened immune system, having a history of cervical cancer in your family, and more. Talk with your doctor and family about what is right for you.

Questions? Check out our cervical health and wellness page or talk with your provider, they will be able to answer all your questions.

Need help? Call us at 1-866-595-8133 (TTY: 711), Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., if you would like help scheduling your cervical cancer screening or finding a ride. The screening is included in your benefits, so it won’t cost you a thing.