Pap Smear Test

 In Medical & Health

A Pap smear (Pap test) is a process used to screen women for cervical cancer. This test includes taking cells from the cervix, which is at the top of the vagina and is in the lower, shorter end of the uterus.

Early detection of cervical cancer by Pap smear gives a better chance of cure. A Pap smear can detect changes in cervical cells that may develop into cancer in the future. Early detection of these abnormal cells through a Pap smear is the first step in stopping the potential development of cervical cancer.

What can a Pap smear detect?

The pap smear test detects,

  • Cervical cancer.
  • Cervical intraepithelial neoplasia: Cervical cells that may be precancerous.
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV), a common sexually transmitted infection (STI) that raises the risk of cervical cancer.

Who needs a Pap smear?

Women should start getting Pap smears at age 21 and get HPV tests at age 30.

How often do you need a Pap smear?

Age Pap smear frequency
21 – 29 years Every 3 years
30 – 65 years Every 3 years with a Pap/HPV co-test
>65 Not required if you have undergone sufficient screenings in the past with negative results and are not at a high risk for cervical cancer.

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Preparation for a Pap Smear:

A Pap test shouldn’t be done while you are on your menstruation. The accuracy of the test can be impacted by severe bleeding. Ask your doctor if you can reschedule your test if it ends up being scheduled during that time of the month.

Starting 48 hours before your test, experts advise following these measures for the most reliable Pap smear.

  • Avoid sexual activity and lubricants.
  • Avoid applying sprays or powders close to your vagina.
  • Avoid putting anything, including tampons, pills, lotions, and suppositories, into your vagina.
  • Avoid using a douche, water, vinegar, or any other liquid to rinse your vagina.

Pap Smear Process:

The entire checkup lasts for roughly 10 to 20 minutes; however, the Pap smear alone just takes a few minutes. The examination is completed at your doctor’s office or clinic.

You’ll be on a table, your feet firmly planted in stirrups. Your doctor will spread your legs while inserting a speculum, a metal or plastic instrument, into your vagina. The vaginal walls will be made wider by opening it. This gives them a chance to see your cervix. A sample of your cervix’s cells will be taken by your doctor using a swab. They will put them in a liquid and put them in a tiny jar before sending them to a lab for analysis.

You won’t feel any pain during the Pap test, although you might feel a small pinch or pressure.

Results of Pap Swear:

Normal result

A negative result is a positive thing. That means there aren’t any malignant or precancerous cells on your cervix. You won’t need another one until your next scheduled pap smear is due.

Abnormal result

Even if your test results are positive, cancer is not always the result. You could have an abnormal Pap smear for a number of causes.

  • HPV or other infection
  • Lab test error
  • Inflammation can occur if you’ve had sex or used a diaphragm shortly before having a Pap smear.
  • Your doctor can decide to “wait and see” if you experience inflammation or modest cell abnormalities. They may advise that you get a second Pap test in a few months.

Pap Smear Risks:

The Pap smear process is regarded as secure. However, it’s possible that some aberrant cells or cervical malignancies could go undetected during the examination. An example of this is a false negative. Discuss the advantages and dangers of cervical cancer screening with your doctor.

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