Pap Smear Screening
A Pap smear screening should be part of every woman’s annual wellness exam. A Pap test checks for cancers and precancers on the cervix located on the lower portion of the uterus. Pap smear screenings are important because it can help women to avoid some reproductive cancers if caught in time.
What is a Pap smear?
A Pap smear screening may also be referred to as a Pap test or cervical cytology screening. These tests allow for your gynecologist to see if there are any changes in the cells on your cervix. These changes will alert your doctor to a possible development of cervical cancer.
Why is a Pap smear important?
A Pap smear screening is important to your health because it can possibly save your life. If the test finds that you have an abnormal Pap smear, you have a much higher chance of successful treatment if it is caught early. This is why a Pap smear is such an important part of your annual wellness exam.
What kind of woman should have a Pap smear screening?
All women between the ages of 21 and 65 should be getting a Pap smear screening as part of their annual wellness exam. The test is not a test for sexually transmitted infections. This means that even if you are not sexually active, a Pap smear should still be part of your yearly exam. In addition, women who are past menopause should also continue to get yearly Pap smears.
Women who do not have a cervix due to a hysterectomy do not need to have a Pap smear.
What can I do to prepare for a Pap test?
There are several things you can do to prepare for a Pap test to reduce the chances of incorrect results. We recommend that for 2 days prior to the Pap smear screening that you do not do any of the following:
- Utilize tampons
- Utilize any kind of vaginal creams, suppositories, or other medications
- Utilize feminine deodorant sprays or powders in the vaginal area
- Use douches of any kind
- Have sexual intercourse
Any residue left from the above items may result in a false positive result.
When is the best time for me to get a Pap smear screening?
The best time for you to schedule a Pap smear screening is ten to twenty days after your last period. You should never schedule a screening for when you are on your period.
How does a Pap test work?
Your Raleigh OBGYN will conduct a Pap Smear during a routine pelvic examination. You will be called into a private room where your gynecologist will request that you undress from the waist down and lie down on an examination table. You will be covered with a sheet, then asked to place your feet in stirrups so the gynecologist can examine your cervix. Once your feet are in the stirrups, a speculum is placed into your vagina. This helps the doctor to keep your vagina open while viewing your cervix. Your gynecologist will then brush your cervix with a special stick, then brush it onto a glass slide to be examined in a lab.
You may feel some mild discomfort during your Pap test, however it should not be painful. Some women experience some spotting afterwards, however this should be considered normal.
How long does it take to get the results of my Pap smear screening?
Pap smear results can take one to three weeks to come back from the lab. While most results are normal, some women may receive an abnormal Pap test.
What should I do if my Pap smear screening is abnormal?
If you receive an abnormal Pap smear screening, the first thing you should do is remain calm. An abnormal Pap smear is not a confirmation of cancer. There are a number of scenarios that can cause an abnormal Pap smear. If you receive an abnormal Pap smear, your gynecologist will call you back into the office to proceed with further testing.
As experts in women’s health care in Raleigh, NC, we advise all women to schedule an annual wellness exam so that you will automatically receive a Pap smear screening. If you have questions about Pap smear screenings, or any of our women’s wellness services, we invite you to call our office to speak with one of our caring staff members.