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The Importance of Regular Pap Smears

A pap smear is a physical examination that is done to prevent and diagnose cervical cancer in women. Dr. Pamela Snook and her team of expert gynecologists perform pap smears for women of all ages at Contemporary Women’s Care.

Understanding Pap Smears

A Pap smear is a test that is used for cervical cancer screening. The procedure involves the collection and evaluation of cells from your cervix, checking for abnormalities.

The procedure is done together with a pelvic exam. Sometimes an additional test for human papillomavirus (HPV) is done instead of a pap smear.

Why you need a pap smear

Pap smears help your health care provider diagnose cervical cancer and other infections and start treatment early before your condition becomes severe, affecting your well-being. 

How often you should get Pap smears

You are recommended to begin Pap testing at age 21 or when you become sexually active. Pap smear appointments should be at least three years apart but vary according to family history. Those with a family history of cancer may need Pap smear testing annually, while those without and are above the age of thirty may need the test after every five years.

When to consider stopping Pap smears

You may consider stopping Pap smears if;

You have had a total hysterectomy.

You are above the age of 65. However, your care provider may recommend continuation if your lifestyle involves multiple partners.

How you should prepare for your Pap smear

Before a Pap smear procedure, you are recommended to;

Avoid scheduling the test during your menstrual period.

Avoid having sex, douching, or putting anything into your vagina, such as tampons, lubricants, or vaginal medication, two days before your test as they interfere with your results’ accuracy.

What to expect during a Pap smear

Your care provider will perform a Pap smear in-office. The procedure takes only a few minutes.

You will be asked to either undress entirely or from the waist down.

You will then lie down on your back with your knees bent and heels resting on stirrups.

Your doctor will gently insert a speculum into your vagina to hold the walls of your vagina apart. You will feel pressure in your pelvic area when the speculum is inserted.

Samples of your cervical cells are then taken using a soft brush and a spatula.

You should not feel pain during the procedure.

What to expect after a Pap smear

You will be able to resume normal activities after the Pap smear as your doctor will not recommend any restrictions. Your doctor will let you know when to expect the results.

The cell sample collected from your cervix will be transferred into a container and preserved (liquid-based Pap test) or onto a glass slide (conventional Pap smear).

The samples are transferred to a laboratory and examined under a microscope for abnormal characteristics indicating cancer or a precancerous condition.

Risks associated with Pap smears

A Pap smear is a safe way to screen for cervical cancer. However, you risk getting a false-negative result, especially if a small number of abnormal cells were collected or the abnormal cells were obscured by blood and inflammatory cells.

To learn more about Pap smears, contact Contemporary Women’s Care.

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