Sometimes, while visiting your gynecologist, your doctor will suggest getting a pap smear. And naturally you are going to wonder about what is that, and why would you need it. Will, not to worry as we will answer all your questions in this article.
What is a pap smear?
A pap smear test, or a Pap Test, is basically a test for cervical cancer in women. In this test, doctors collect cells from the cervix. Which is the lower, narrow end of your uterus that’s at the top of the vagina.
Testing those cells can detect cervical cancer thus offering a greater chance at a cure. And that is why this test is so important. Leaving these abnormal cells untested can cause great health concerns. So, a pap test is always recommended.
Why would women need this test?
Doctors request a pap smear for several cases, such as:
- – Detecting irregular or precancerous cells.
- – To help diagnose infections.
- – Having an extremely weak immune system.
- – Helps doctors make treatment plans and eases following them up.
Overall, women need a pap test to help them understand their bodies. It is a first step to knowing what is going on. As it is a follow up procedure to see how treatment is going. In addition, gynecologists urge women to take a pap smear test once every 5 years. According to Mayo Clinic, that includes all ladies above 21 years old.
How to prepare for a pap smear test?
- 1| Stopping all sexual activity 24 hours prior to the test.
- 2| Do not take the test during your period.
- 3| Avoid contraceptives and feminine washes 24 hours before the test.
- 4| If you have an infection, you must wait for a minimum of 2 weeks before having another test.
- 5| Make sure your bladder is completely empty before getting tested.
How is it done?
A pap test usually takes from 10 to 20 minutes tops. It is normal to feel anxious or unformattable. But remember, you are doing this for your own health. And a pap smear procedure will go as follows.
First, you will lie down on your back and spread your legs. Your feet will rest on stirrups. Then, your doctor will insert a device into your vagina. This device is called a speculum, which helps keep the vaginal walls open. That is important to ease the procedure of taking a sample from the cervix. Some women feel a slight push or irritation when their doctors are taking the sample. But that is only for a brief minute.
After that, doctors will send the sample to the test, and further action will depend on that.
What can the results of this test indicate?
There are two ways to describe a pap smear test result: either normal, or abnormal. A normal pap smear means it is negative for irregular or precancerous cells. Meaning doctors will give you a clean bill of health. As for an abnormal pap smear, it does not necessarily mean cancerous cells were found. There are other reasons for getting abnormal results, such as:
- – Experiencing an infection.
- – Having a human papilloma virus.
- – A testing mistake, which might require you to retest.
When is a pap smear required?
Doctors usually recommend pap smears to women above the age of 21 years old. The older a lady is, the more necessary it becomes. For women who are around 21 to 29 years old, they can test once every five years. As for women who are above 30, it is best to test every 3 years. Finally, women who are above the age of 65 are less likely to need a pap test.