Pap Smear Q & A
Why Should I Have a Pap Smear?
A pap smear is the best procedure currently available to screen for risk factors that could lead to the development of cervical cancer. Nearly 13,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in the United States each year, and an average of 4,000 women lose their life to this illness each year. When detected in its early stages, cervical cancer can be treated to remission. For this reason, it is so important to visit your OB/GYN every three years for a routine pap smear if you are over the age of 21. After the age of 30, you can go up to five years between pap smears if your last pap returned a normal result and you’ve tested negative for HPV.
What Can I Expect from a Pap Smear?
Many women feel some level of anxiety before their visit to Nurture Women’s Health to have a routine pap smear. Some consider the procedure to be uncomfortable. Your doctor will perform a pelvic exam, and a tool that is called a speculum will be inserted into your vagina so that the cervix can be easily examined. A small brush and a plastic spatula are used gently to collect a sample of cells from your cervix. These cells are then placed into a mild solution and sent to the lab to be examined.
Most patients do not feel that a pap smear is painful, but it is normal to feel a bit uncomfortable. The results of a pap test are usually back within a week to two weeks. When these results are in, you will receive a call from your doctor. Sometimes, a second pap test will need to be completed if your pap smear reveals an abnormal result. If you do have an abnormal pap smear—do not panic. This does not automatically mean that you have cervical cancer or precancerous cells, and your doctor will discuss completing further tests.