Pap Smear: What You Need to Know About This Dreaded Test
A pap smear is a test that doctors use to confirm cervical cancer diagnosis in female patients. This condition affects the cervix, a vital part of the female reproductive tract, and is at the topmost part of the vagina. The test is usually straightforward and involves the collection and sampling of cells from a woman’s cervix. It is essential to schedule a White Plains pap smear appointment so that your doctor can detect any anomalies as soon as they begin developing. An early diagnosis may give you a greater chance of a cure. Moreover, if your doctor notices any changes in your cervical cells during your regular pap smears, they might develop preventative treatments that will nullify the possibility of cancer.
Why are pap smears essential, and how often should you get them?
One of the tests doctors recommend for every woman to undergo during pelvic exams is a pap smear. This test focuses on your cervical cells. Any changes pointing to cervical cancer could help your doctor develop a treatment plan to prevent future complications. Most doctors test for human papillomavirus HPV in conjunction with a pap smear to ensure a thorough diagnosis. HPV is an infection transmitted through sexual intercourse and is a cause of cervical cancer.
If you have never undergone pap smear testing, you should schedule an appointment as soon as possible to understand the state of your reproductive health. Most doctors recommend women begin pap smear testing at 21 years.
If you are under 65 years, you should undergo the test at least every three years. However, women above 30 may get the test every five years as long as they do the test in conjunction with HPV testing or as an alternative.
What are the risk factors for cervical cancer?
Pelvic exams help your doctor determine whether you are at risk of developing cervical cancer. Some of the risk factors associated with this condition include:
- Exposure to diethylstilbestrol (DES) before birth.
- History of smoking
- Weakening immune system due to conditions such as HIV or treatments like organ transplant or chemotherapy.
Your doctor will develop an ideal treatment for you, depending on your risk factors.
How to prepare for your pap smear
- Avoid using vaginal medicines before your appointment. Also, do not douche or enhance sexual intercourse.
- Avoid scheduling your pap smear appointment during your menstrual cycle.
- You do not have to shave or wax before your appointment, as this does not matter and will bother your gynecologist.
What should you expect during a pap smear?
You should expect this test to last long because doctors usually complete performing a pap smear in minutes. You may be completely naked or from the waist down during the trial. Doctors typically ask patients to lie on their back and bend their knees, resting their feet on stirrups. Your care provider will insert a speculum that will spread vaginal walls. During this part, you may feel some pressure in the pelvis. A soft brush and spatula will help collect cervical samples that your doctor will send to the lab.
Contact Formé Medical Center and Urgent Care to learn more about the fate of pap smears in laboratories.