January 15, 2019

Many women experience a little anxiety whenever it’s time for their annual Pap smear. Knowing what to expect can minimize your stress and allow you to relax. Our OB/GYNs at Healthcare Associates of Texas want to give you some essential information to ease your mind before your next Pap smear appointment.

What Is a Pap Test?

A Pap smear or Pap test is a simple procedure to check for abnormal cells in the tissue of a woman’s cervix. Abnormal cells might indicate you have cervical cancer or that it may develop in the future. Getting a Pap test is our first line of defense in stopping cervical cancer in its tracks.

Who Should Have a Pap Smear?

The general rule is that all women between the ages of 21 and 65 should have a Pap test done annually. You might need more frequent checks if you’ve had cervical cancer or an abnormal Pap in the past, have been diagnosed with HIV, have a weakened immune system, or a history of smoking.

During the Exam

This test is done in our office and only takes a few minutes. Our staff will provide you with a gown to wear and ask you to remove your clothes. You will lie down on your back on the exam table and place your feet in heel supports, known as stirrups. You can keep your knees bent and relax your legs out to the sides of your body.

You will feel our doctor touch the outside of your vagina to gently insert a special tool called a speculum. This tool opens the walls of your vagina so the doctor can see your cervix, which is located at the base of your uterus. A small brush or spatula will be inserted into your vagina to gently remove cervical tissue.

This test shouldn’t hurt, but you might feel some pressure. After the test, you can go about your normal daily activities with no restrictions.

Understanding Your Results

Your results will be in one of two categories – normal or abnormal. Normal results mean no concerning cells were seen under a microscope when looking at the sample of cells from the test. You won’t need to do anything else, other than schedule your next Pap test.

Abnormal results don’t mean you have cervical cancer. You might have some inflammation or a few minor changes to the cells. These changes might go away or progress over time. Your doctor will create an individualized plan of care for you which may include having another test in a few months.

Pap tests can help prevent cervical cancer or find it early. If you’ve never had a Pap smear or are uncertain when your last test was done, call our office today to book your annual life-saving appointment.

References:
https://www.webmd.com/women/guide/pap-smear#1
https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/pap-smear/about/pac-20394841
https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/cervical/basic_info/screening.htm
https://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Abnormal-Cervical-Cancer-Screening-Test-Results?IsMobileSet=false

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