The Pap smear test is fundamental in the detection of cervical cancer or pre-cancerous cells. Young women should begin getting regular Pap tests once they turn 21 in order to screen for cervical cancer. In many cases, an HPV test is also performed with a Pap smear because it detects the human papillomavirus that contributes to precancerous cervical cells.
The earlier you detect cervical cancer, the greater your chances for a full recovery. In addition to screening for cancer, during your Pap smear, your doctor may also perform a physical exam of your pelvic region to check for issues with any of the other reproductive organs.
Starting at age 21, a woman should receive a Pap smear every three years, or more often in the case of an abnormal result. Because it is the most reliable and effective way to screen for cervical cancer you should always talk to your doctor to determine if you require a Pap test.
Women who have received regular results by the age of 65—or who have had hysterectomies—may no longer need the Pap smear performed.
Your doctor will give you special instructions before your Pap smear is performed. These may include avoiding intercourse, the use of tampons, or douching at least 24 hours prior to your test. You should also not schedule your Pap smear at the same time as your menstrual period.
During the test, you will be asked to lie on your back on an exam table with your feet in stirrups. Your provider will gently insert a speculum into the vagina in order to widen it. Then, a sample of cells is taken from the cervix using a soft brush or scraping device. There is usually little to no discomfort during the procedure.
If you are due for a Pap smear, contact our office to schedule your visit and stay on top of cervical cancer screening.
Feel free to email us regarding any scheduling or general questions!