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The Pap smear is a screening test that is done to find changes in the cells of the cervix in women. It has been in use for over 50 years.
The cervix is the lowest part of a women’s uterus, or womb, and opens into the vagina (the birth canal). The cervix is covered by a thin layer of tissue like the skin inside your mouth. During a Pap smear, a small brush is used to remove a few of these cells for testing by a lab; this test is simple and quick to perform.
Pap smears are an important part of a woman’s health care. When and how often you have Pap smears depend on your age and your health history. You should have routine Pap smears no later than age 21. Many doctors recommend a woman start getting Pap smears when she becomes sexually active. Women under age 20 will have a Pap smear every year. After age 30, you may not need a Pap smear every year, depending on your personal health history. If you have an abnormal Pap smear result at any age, your doctor may recommend you get a repeat Pap smear sooner.
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