PAP Smears After Age 65

Ivor Benjamin, MD
Last Modified: November 1, 2001

If a woman is over the age of 65 and not sexually active, does she still need to continue to have regular Pap smear testing performed? Also, is there an actual age where Pap smear testing is no longer required?

Ivor Benjamin, MD, Former co-Editor-in-Chief of OncoLink, responds:

Most gynecologists would recommend an annual Pap test for all sexually active women—regardless of age. If a woman is not sexually active and has had several consecutive normal annual Pap tests, many would say that she no longer needs to have an annual Pap test. However, according to the National Cancer Institute, "There is no known upper age at which Pap tests cease to be effective. Older women should continue to have regular physical exams, including pelvic exams and Pap tests. Women who have had consistently normal Pap test results may want to ask the doctor how often they need to have a Pap test."