Has the doctor prescribed you to take a Pap test or a Pap smear? If so, then this article will be perfect for you. Here, we will discuss everything you need to know about a Pap smear test so that you can prepare yourself before the procedure. It’s better if you are informed than to take the test without any idea about it.
So, let’s get to it!
What Is a Pap Smear?
First, let’s define what a Pap smear is. The terms Pap smear and Pap test are just the same things. Essentially, a pap smear is a test or a screening procedure for people suspected of or at risk of having cervical cancer. The test aims to look for any presence of precancerous or cancerous cells in the cervix. During the process, the cells from the cervix are gently scraped away and examined for abnormal growth. This test is also used to diagnose other conditions such as infections or inflammations.
Who Takes a Pap Smear Test?
Anyone can take a Pap smear. However, age will matter. In fact, the American Cancer Society recommends that screening should start at the age of 25. Also, a Pap smear is usually recommended for women who have an increased risk for cancer or infection.
People who are HIV positive and have a weakened immune system for chemotherapy or an organ transplant are required to have frequent Pap smears.
What Are the General Reminders When Getting a Pap Smear?
If you’re about to have a Pap test, you should prepare for it. Here are the things you should take note of before getting the test:
- You should not have menstruation on the day of your Pap smear. If you have, the doctor will most likely reschedule the test because the result could be less accurate.
- As much as possible, avoid having sexual intercourse, douching, or using spermicidal products the day before your test.
- If you’re pregnant, the safest time to have a Pap smear is when you’re in the first 24 weeks of your pregnancy.
- Try to stay calm and take deep breaths during the procedure.
What Happens During a Pap Smear?
You should know that a Pap smear may feel a little bit uncomfortable. But the good news is that the test is just very quick. To give you an idea, here’s what may happen during the procedure:
- First, the doctor will ask you to lie on your back on an examination table with your legs wide open and your feet resting on the supports called stirrups.
- Then, don’t be shocked because the doctor will slowly insert a speculum device into your vagina. The device will keep your vaginal walls open and provide access to the cervix.
- After that, the doctor will scrape a sample of cells from your cervix using a particular tool.
- Finally, the cells from your cervix will be preserved and sent to a laboratory to be tested.
What to Expect After the Test?
If you’re feeling some discomfort or a bit of cramping after the test, don’t panic because it is only normal. In fact, you could also experience very light vaginal bleeding immediately following the test. But, if the discomfort or bleeding continues after the day of the test, you should immediately tell your doctor about it.
Now that you know more about a Pap smear, there’s no need to be afraid of the test anymore. You need to have it, especially if your doctor recommends it, because that can tell if you have abnormal cells in your cervix. If detected early, infections and inflammations can be treated properly. There’s also a higher chance to prevent cancer because treatment can start before it spreads and becomes a more significant concern.
You can have a Pap test at Aspen Medical Center. We are a medical clinic in Santa Fe providing primary care to our patients. Our medical staff is trained to care for people of all ages, from infants to the elderly and everyone in between. Book your appointment with us today!