What is a Pap smear?
A Pap smear is a straightforward procedure where your OB/GYN takes a sample of the cells from your cervix. The sample gets analyzed in a specialist lab, which sends the results to your OB/GYN. If there’s any change in the cells, she lets you know and books you in for further investigations.
Some changes in the cervical cells aren’t anything to worry about, but it’s important that you have a Pap smear regularly because the test detects changes that could lead to cervical cancer.
What happens during a Pap smear?
When you visit your OB/GYN for your Pap test, you lay on a table with your knees up, dropping your knees to the sides for the test. Your OB/GYN uses an instrument called a speculum to open up the walls of your vagina so that she can see your cervix.
The lubricating gel helps ease the speculum into place; then your OB/GYN opens the speculum to view the cervix and uses a swab to gather some cells. The cell sample gets sealed and recorded, ready to be sent for testing. Your OB/GYN gently removes the speculum, and the procedure is complete.
The entire process takes around 10 to 20 minutes, and although you’ll be aware of the pressure of the speculum, you shouldn’t feel any pain. If you find the procedure uncomfortable, tell your OB/GYN.
What do the test results mean?
Your test results get back from the lab within a few days. A negative result means there are no changes in your cells and no sign of anything amiss. You won’t need to have another Pap smear until your next routine appointment.
If the test results are positive, it may be due to a mild inflammation, or there could be minor cell changes called dysplasia. These minor symptoms may well resolve themselves without any intervention, and your OB/GYN may just ask you to book another Pap smear in a couple of months.
If your OB/GYN has any concerns about your Pap smear results, she’ll order further tests to find out more about what’s causing the cell changes. Your OB/GYN keeps you fully informed of what your test results show and what the results mean.
How often should I have a Pap smear?
Current recommendations are that you should start having Pap smears from the age of 21 and continue to have one at least every three years until you reach 65.
The all-female OB/GYNs at Galasso, Hirsch & Russell M.D.s, PC, understand you may feel apprehensive about having a Pap smear and receiving the results. They take great care of their patients and aim to make the test as comfortable and stress-free as possible, so call the clinic today, or make an appointment online.