For our female patients, it is recommended to have a pap smear along with your annual well-woman exam. Your primary care physician or OB/GYN doctor can perform both.
The main reason a women gets a regular pap smear is to either rule out or catch precancerous or cancerous cells on the cervix early. A pap smear test is to detect any cellular changes in the cervix, which could be caused by HPV. By identifying these cells early, you can begin treatment before it spreads and becomes a bigger problem. A pap smear also allows you to test for HPV too.
What is a Pap Smear?
A pap smear, which is also called a pap test or short for Papanicolaou test, is a procedure for women to test for cervical cancer. It involves collecting cells from your cervix which is at the lower, narrow end of your uterus that’s at the top of your vagina. If you detect cervical cancer early with a pap smear, it gives you a higher chance at a cure by early detection. The presence of precancerous or cancerous cells is detected on a woman’s cervix. The cervix is the opening of the uterus. During the routine procedure, cells from your cervix are gently scraped away and then examined for abnormal growth.
It is recommended that you should have a pelvic exam every year if you are between the ages of 30 to 64. A pap smear would be done every other year, or as often as your physician recommends during your appointment.
According to the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, women should begin getting Pap smears at age 21 and get another one every three years until age 65. Women 30 years and older can opt for a Pap test plus HPV test every five years.
How to Prepare?
Follow these guidelines before your test to ensure that your pap smear is most effective: avoid intercourse, douching, or using any vaginal medicines or spermicidal foams, creams or jellies for two days before having a pap smear, as these may wash away or obscure abnormal cells.
What to Expect?
During a pap smear, your Doctor or nurse places a metal or plastic speculum into your vagina which opens up to separate the walls of your vagina so that they can get to your cervix. Then they use a tiny spatula or brush to gently collect cells from your cervix. Pap tests only take a few minutes. They shouldn’t hurt, but you might feel some discomfort or pressure when your Doctor or nurse opens the speculum inside you. You could also feel a light scratching when they collect the cells from your cervix. The cells are checked in a lab for cell changes and cervical cancer, and you will receive a report sayings the results of the pap smear.
Questions that the Doctor will ask during your exam:
The Doctor will talk to you about your medical history and ask you questions such as:
- When was your last period?
- Are you sexually active? If the answer is yes, are you using birth control and STD protection?
- Do you have pain or heavy bleeding with your period?
- Are you experiencing any unusual vaginal discharge or sores, itchiness, or discomfort in the vaginal area?
- Do you think you could be pregnant?
We strongly recommend scheduling regular physicals and screenings for cancer, diabetes, and heart disease, as well as annual well-woman exams and Pap smears for our female patients. Call us today at 770-322-9660 to schedule your well-woman exam.
Hillandale Primary Care & Laser Center is owned and operated by Dr. Saira Tariq Niaz, who is a board-certified family physician with offices in Lithonia and Lawrenceville Georgia. Hillandale Primary Care provides patient-focused, compassionate healthcare of the highest quality to each patient and delivers acute and chronic healthcare to patients of all ages. We are passionate about preventive medicine and encourage each of our patients to take an active role in maintaining overall health and wellbeing. Call today at 770.322-9660 or request an appointment.