Medicare guidelines for pap smears 2019?

Ladies, it’s time to get real about our health. Specifically, the kind of health that involves a Pap smear. Yes, I know, it’s not the most exciting topic in the world. But hey, we’re all adults here and taking care of ourselves is important! So let’s dive deep into what you need to know about Medicare guidelines for Pap smears (or as I like to call them—the “magical cervix wand”).

What is a Pap Smear?

Before we jump into the nitty-gritty details of proper screening frequency and age limits for Medicare-covered Pap smears, let’s start with the basics.

A Pap smear, also known as a cervical cancer screening test or simply “the tool that scares me,” is an exam where your doctor collects cells from your cervix with either a brush or scraper-looking thingy (not very medical terminology but very descriptive) and then sends them off to be examined under a microscope.

This may not sound like something you’d want done every year (or ever), but trust us—finding potential issues early through regular screenings can make all the difference in detecting any abnormal cell growth before things become more serious.

So now that we have that out of the way…

When Should You Get Your First Cervical Screening?

According to current recommendations… drumroll please… women should get their first cervical cancer screening at age 21!

Now, just because this is when you should start getting regularly screened does NOT mean there aren’t other factors at play—like if you began having sex earlier than usual or if there were concerns found during prior pelvic exams (we’ve got eyes everywhere down there) However, these are decisions best left up to individual conversations between patients and their doctors so always ask!

And while we’re on the topic of starting at age 21…

Is It True That You Only Need a Pap Smear Every Three Years?

ALERT: This is not necessarily true! (I know, I was shocked too). The frequency with which one should have cervical cancer screenings done actually depends on multiple factors including your age, medical history and personal preference.

For Medicare holders specifically, you’ll want to take into account if any prior tests were abnormal or showed warning signs that require more frequent retesting. Check out some possible screening recommendations:

  • Age 21-29 – Cervical Cancer Screening every three years with a standard Pap test (because let’s be honest no one looks forward to these so why do it yearly unless necessary?)

  • Age 30-65 – Cervical Cancer Screening every five years using HPV testing combined with a Pap smear OR pap testing alone every three years if an HPV test is unavailable.

Either way sounds like quite the winner to me!

Do Women Over 65 Years Still Need Pap Smears

The answer here really will vary depending on how things have gone for you in previous screenings but once again drumroll please, women over the age of 65 may only also stop getting screened as long as their prior results revealed normal pathology. If they had any abnormalities found within the last ten years then it’s time to head back in for another magical cervix wand experience (Yay us!!)

But wait there’s more…

What Are Some Symptoms That Might Require Further Testing Beyond Just A Routine Screen?

Not all vaginal bleeding is harmless: Sometimes other issues can arise unrelated to cancer that may indicate further investigation by your doctor. These symptoms include:

  • Irregular menstrual cycles
  • Postmenopausal bleeding
  • Pain during sex
  • Abnormal discharge

And there are several other unusual conditions that could result from many different types of procedures so always consult with your doctor if you are experiencing anything unusual.


As much as it’s not an exciting topic, understanding how Medicare guidelines work when it comes to regular cervical cancer screenings is vital for women of all ages who want to stay on top of their health (Yes, even the non-exciting stuff) So now that you have been given a general idea regarding timing and frequency–it’s time to schedule that appointment and experience the magical cervix wand once again!