Make An Appointment
Book Appointment Online with select physicians.
Request Appointment Online to schedule with one of our coordinators.
1.888.IUHEALTH for
Same-Day Primary Care Appointments.
If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 9-1-1.

Abnormal Pap Tests

Preventive healthcare, including an annual visit with a women’s healthcare provider, is important to identify health problems as early as possible.

Beginning at age 21, your women’s healthcare provider will perform a cervical cancer screening called a Pap test. The Pap test (or Pap smear) is a method used to screen for problems of the cervix. The test was named after its inventor Dr. Georgios Papanikolaou. The Pap test is most useful for detecting cervical cancer, but it also detects yeast infections, bacteria and viruses in the cervix.

Pap tests can detect precancerous conditions that allow for treatment before cancer develops. In addition, invasive cancer can be detected at an early, more treatable stage. The death rates for cervical cancer have declined sharply since Pap tests have become more common.

To take a Pap smear, your doctor will place a speculum to open the vaginal canal and collect cells from the outer opening of the cervix with a collection device. The cells will be examined under a microscope to look for abnormalities. A Pap smear may be uncomfortable, but should not be especially painful.

An abnormal Pap test does not necessarily mean that you have cancer. If you have had a Pap smear that has detected abnormal cells, then a doctor will use a microscope to examine the cells more closely. The procedure used to do this is called a colposcopy. It is important to follow up with the appropriate treatment recommended by your doctor if you have any abnormal cells found on your Pap smear.

A Pap test is recommended for women age 21-65 who have not had a total hysterectomy. 

In the past, women were screened with a Pap test every year. Today’s recommendations are different. Women under 30 years of age with a normal Pap test do not need to be tested again for three years. It is recommended that women 30 and older receive a Pap test as well as a human papillomavirus (HPV) test. If both the Pap test and HPV test are normal, a woman can then hold off testing for five years. 

For patients who do not have health insurance, IU Health occasionally partners with area gynecologists to sponsor free cervical cancer screening in the community. Ask your doctor about free cervical cancer screening events.

How We Can Help

How We Can Help

Abnormal Pap Tests Treatment Information

If something abnormal is detected on a Pap test, your doctor may recommend a different screening schedule or additional testing. It is important to discuss which screenings are right for you with your doctor. Some of the additional screenings that may be performed are as follows:

Abnormal Pap Tests Locations & Physicians

Use the search options below to find treatments available in your area.

Find a Specialist

Enter a Zip Code to find a specialist at IU Health.

Abnormal Pap Tests Support Services

Resources and more information for women who have received an abnormal Pap test are available from a variety of organizations.