What is a Pap Smear Test and How is it Done?
A Pap smear wake forest north carolina, or a Pap test, is a procedure which is used to screen for cervical cancer. The test looks for precancerous or cancerous cells which are present on the cervix.
This routine procedure involves cells from the cervix being gently scraped off and examined for any abnormal growth. This procedure is completed at the doctor’s office and while it may be slightly uncomfortable, it typically does not result in any long-term pain.
This article will discuss who needs a Pap smear, expectations during the procedure, the recommended frequency for a Pap smear, and other common questions.
The current guidelines suggest that women begin receiving regular Pap smears every three years when they are 21 years old. In some cases, women may be at an increased risk for cancer or infection. More frequent tests may be required if the patient is HIV-positive or has a weakened immune system due to chemotherapy or an organ transplant.
For patients who are over 30 years old and have not received an abnormal Pap tests, it may be possible to complete the Pap test every five years in combination with a screening for human papillomavirus (HPV).
HPV is a virus which causes warts and increases the patients risk for cervical cancer. HPV types 16 and 18 are known as being primary causes of cervical cancer. For patients who have HPV, they may be at an increased risk for developing cervical cancer.
For women who are over 65 years old and have a history of normal Pap smear results, they may be able to stop having the test altogether. It is important to discuss this with your doctor.
Regardless of whether a patient is sexual activity, they should continue to get regular Pap smears based on their age. It is possible for the HPV virus to be dormant for years and unexpectedly become active.
The frequency for receiving a Pap smear depends on various factors. This can include your medical history, age and risk. Below is a summary of the recommended frequency for a pap smear based on the patient’s age.
Age & Recommended Frequency
- Under 21 N/A
- 21-29 Every three years
- 30-65 Every three years or HPV test every five years
- 65+ May no longer be required, talk to your doctor
It is important to note that these recommendations only apply to women with a cervix. Women who have had a hysterectomy, which includes the removal of the cervix, and do not have a history of cervical cancer, do not need a screening. The recommendations can vary based on different factors. The recommended frequency may be different for women with a compromised immune systems or a history of precancerous, or cancerous lesions. It is always important to follow the recommendations provided by your doctor.
A Pap smear should be scheduled along with your annual gynecological examination. Patients may also request a separate appointment with their gynecologist. Most insurance plans cover the cost of a Pap smear. Although the play may require the patient to pay a portion of the cost.
If the patient is expected to be menstruating on the day of the scheduled Pap smear, it may need to be rescheduled as it can result in less accurate test results.
Patients should avoid having sexual intercourse, douching, or using any spermicidal products a day prior to the test as it can interfere with the results.
For most patients, it is perfectly safe to have a Pap smear within the first 24 weeks of their pregnancy. After 24 weeks, the test can be more painful and may be postponed. In addition, patients should wait at least 12 weeks after giving birth to have their Pap smear as this can increase the accuracy of the results.
A Pap smear will go more smoothly when you are relaxed. Remain calm and be sure to breathe regularly throughout the procedure. Be sure to discuss any questions or concerns with your doctor.