Student Health

Pap Smear

The Pap test (also called a Pap Smear) is a way to examine cells collected from the cervix - the opening from the vagina to the uterus. The main purpose of the test is to screen for abnormal cells that could lead to cervical cancer. It can also find noncancerous conditions, such as infection and inflammation.


  • Pap tests should begin at age 21.
  • Routine pap testing is recommended every two years for women 21-29 years old.
  • For certain women 30 years and older who have had three consecutive normal test results, testing can be done every three years.
  • Women with certain risk factors may need more frequent screening, including those who have HIV, are immunosuppressed, were exposed to diethylstilbestrol (DES) in utero, and those who have had previous abnormal pap results or treatment for cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN).

Ultimately the decision to have a pap smear should be made between you and your healthcare provider. To schedule an appointment at the Duke Student Health Center, please call (919) 681-9355 (WELL) or book online.

For more information about pap testing, please see: