Regular Pap smears continue to remain the standard for early detection of cervical cancer, a form of cancer that can be fatal if not caught early. If you’re due for a Pap test or have a history of abnormal Pap smears, book an exam at Cary OB/GYN today. Contact us today to schedule your appointment at the office nearest you.
Pap Smear Q & A
Why do I need a Pap smear?
Medical experts from the American Cancer Society estimate that about 13,000 new cervical diagnoses occur in a given year. This number was even higher decades ago before Pap smear testing became routine.
Your vagina opens up to your cervix, which is the bottom part of your uterus. A Pap smear is a simple in-office test that involves gathering a sampling of cells from your cervix.
This routine women’s preventive test screens for abnormal cells in your cervix that are likely going to turn into cancer cells — or that are already cancerous cells — so your OB/GYN can get you started on treatment right away.
How often do I need a Pap smear?
In general, you start getting Pap smear tests around the age of 21. As long as your Pap tests are normal, you typically need to repeat them every three years, or as recommended, through about age 65.
If you combine your Pap smear with human papillomavirus (HPV) testing and your results continue to be normal, you might only need Pap smears every five years. But if your Pap test is abnormal, your OB/GYN could recommend more frequent testing.
What happens during a Pap smear?
A Pap smear involves lying back on the exam table and placing your feet in stirrups. Your OB/GYN gently places a speculum into your vagina to open up your vaginal walls. While you might feel some slight pressure, this experience shouldn’t cause you pain.
The Pap test involves using a specialized brush to carefully scrape your cervix and quickly gather a sampling of cells. Your OB/GYN places these cells on a slide in preparation to send them off to the lab.
After removing the speculum, your practitioner at Cary OB/GYN talks with you about when you should expect your results and answers any additional questions you may have.
How do I prepare for a Pap smear?
It’s always best to schedule your Pap smear at Cary OB/GYN on a day when you’re not on your menstrual period. Sometimes heavy bleeding can affect your test results. For two days before your Pap smear, you should:
- Avoid vaginal intercourse
- Not use any vaginal medicines
- Skip douching
If you’ve had an abnormal Pap test in the past, bring those records with you if you can. This helps your physician at Cary OB/GYN get a better snapshot of your medical history.
If you’re due for a Pap smear, schedule an appointment at Cary OB/GYN today. Contact us today to schedule your appointment at the office nearest you.