“We’ve heard from some women that they are confused about when to get a Pap test and want them to know the Center stands behind the new ACOG standards and is here to answer any questions,” said National Center of Excellence in Women’s Health Executive Director Deborah Stiffler, PhD, RN, CNM.
ACOG now recommends that women delay their first Pap test until age 21, rather than the previous recommendation that young women get their first test within three years of becoming sexually active, but no later than 21. The group also says women between the ages of 21-29 should be screened every two years and women 30 and older who have had three consecutive normal Pap tests and no history of seriously abnormal findings should be screened every three years.
“The Pap test remains the most effective tool for detecting cervical cancer and pre-cancerous conditions,” Dr. Stiffler said. “However, the new guidelines mean that busy women don’t need to take time out of their schedules to have a Pap test each year, unless they have a history of abnormal findings. Women who have previously had an abnormal Pap test do need to be screened more frequently and should consult with their physicians.”
There are a number of affordable community health care providers around the state that provide Pap tests, including Planned Parenthood of Indiana which is providing free Pap tests to patients on certain days during Women’s Health Week.
The IU National Center of Excellence in Women’s Health (CoE) was designated in 1997 by the Office on Women’s Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and today continues as an “Ambassador for Change” program sponsored by the IU School of Medicine Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. The CoE strives to fulfill its mission to improve the health of Indiana women, making it among the best in the country, through a multi-disciplinary approach encompassing education, outreach, and research. Visit https://medicine.iu.edu/obgyn/clinical-care/womens-health-center for more information.