Well-Woman Checkups

"Well-woman" checkups help to keep you healthy. This kind of care is called preventive care.

A pap smear is a screening test to check for cervical cancer and other problems. When should you have a pap smear?

  • If you are younger than age 21 no pap smear, unless recommended by your doctor
  • If you are aged 21 to 65, a pap smear is recommended every three years or as recommended by your doctor.
  • If you are older than age 65, no pap smear unless you have not had screenings in the past or you have high risks for cervical cancer. Talk to your doctor about what is right for you.

A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast. It is used to check for breast cancer and other problems. How often should you have a mammogram?

  • If you are younger than 40, talk to your doctor about your family history of breast cancer to decide if a mammogram is needed.
  • If you are age 40-49 years, talk to your doctor about when and how often you should have a screening mammogram.
  • If you are 50-74 years old, have a screening mammogram every two years.

Sometimes if you have family members who have had cervical or breast cancer, your doctor may want you to start having pap smears and mammograms earlier or more often, to make sure you are OK.

You can get well-woman checkups from your primary care provider (PCP), or from a specialist called an Obstetrician /Gynecologist. This kind of specialist is sometimes called an OB/GYN doctor.