A woman over 30 years old, who has had normal pap smears and negative HPV tests, should continue to have pap smears every 5 years. She may stop having pap smears at age 65.
If a woman has had abnormal pap smears or is HPV positive, or has high risk conditions such as diethylstilbestrol (DES) exposure or HIV positive, she will need pap smears or other testing as determined in discussion with her health care provider.
The woman who is no longer having periods because she had a hysterectomy for reasons other than cancer no longer needs to have pap smears.
This is the consortium agreement from the expert panels at the American Cancer Society, the American Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology, the American Society for Clinical Pathology and the United States Preventative Services Task Force released in 2012.
The guidelines about how often pap smears should be done and when pap smears can stop have been changing rapidly in the last decade. This is because of the explosion of information about the virus HPV that is largely, if not exclusively, responsible for changes in the cells of the cervix, or abnormal pap smears.
Finally, the Pap smear is a test about the health of the cervix only. The frequency of pap smears doesn't change a woman's need to take care of herself by having regular gynecological and breast examinations or discussions with her health care provider about her healthy lifestyle.