Posts for tag: pap smear
Why are Pap Smears Necessary?
If you are age 21 or older, you may be asked to get a pap smear. It’s also called a pap test, and it’s a common procedure used to test for cervical cancer in women. It is a routine procedure performed in the office during which cells are collected from your cervix.
Cervical cancer is a serious condition which often has no symptoms initially, until it’s in the later stages. A pap smear is a vital tool in detecting cervical cancer in the early stages, when treatment outcomes are much better. A pap smear can also find changes in your cervical cells which may indicate cancer developing at some point in the future.
When you reach age 21 or older, your doctor may recommend a pap test, usually performed along with a pelvic examination. In some cases, the pap test is combined with an HPV (human papillomavirus) which is a sexually transmitted condition known to cause cervical cancer.
The pap smear recommendations for healthy women are:
- The first pap smear at age 21
- A pap smear every 3 years if you are ages 21 to 65
- A pap smear every 5 years if combined with an HPV test and you are age 30 or older
Having more frequent pap smears may be indicated if you have risk factors, including:
- An HIV infection
- An abnormal pap smear showing precancerous cells
- A history of smoking
- A weakened immune system due to organ transplant, chemotherapy, or corticosteroid use
To get ready for a pap smear, there are certain guidelines you should follow. Remember to:
- Avoid having sexual intercourse, using a douche, or any vaginal medications or spermicidal products including foams, creams, or gels for at least 2 days before your test.
- Avoid scheduling a pap smear during your menstrual period
A pap smear is a necessary part of protecting women’s health. The test is important because it is the only definitive way to diagnose cervical cancer in the early stages. Early diagnosis is critical to early treatment, which can lead to a better outcome for you.
The Importance of a Pap Smear
A pap smear, also known as a Pap test or cervical smear, is a routine procedure done at your gynecologist’s office to detect any irregularities in and on the cervix. The name comes from an abbreviation of the inventor’s name, Greek doctor Georgios Papanikolaou, and this test has been performed since 1923. It is currently the most common form of cervical screening in the United States.
What Are Pap Smears?
Pap smears are procedures done in-office and are performed by a doctor on an exam table. The vaginal opening is expanded with a tool called a speculum, and cells are then collected from the outside of the cervix using a tool called a spatula, which is very different from the one you may have in your kitchen. This procedure only takes a few minutes, and is very important for female health. Some patients report mild cramping during or immediately after the test, but it is usually very brief.
The collected cells are transferred to a glass slide and are examined under a microscope. The reason for this test is to identify any pre-cancerous conditions, most of which are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). These results can usually be used to diagnose other cervical problems and can take a week or two to come back.
A Pap smear is recommended for women to get every three years starting at age 21 until 65, barring any pre-existing conditions or any atypical results; those cases may call for more frequent testing. Regular Pap smears can reduce fatalities caused by cervical cancer very significantly, granted that patients with abnormal results follow their doctors’ treatment recommendations.
Be sure to stay up to date with your Pap smears and call your gynecologist with any questions!
If you are a woman over the age of 18, you should already be visiting a gynecologist such as North Dallas's own Dr. Carolyn Ross Riley for annual care. As part of your routine checkups and exam, you may also hear talk about getting a Pap smear. Whether this is your first time getting Pap smear or you're just wondering why this test is so important, we are here to tell you everything you need to understand about the topic.
What is a Pap Smear?
A Pap smear is the best way for our North Dallas women’s doctor to check the cells of the cervix, a structure that lies between the uterus and the vagina. By performing this test, we can check for any abnormal or suspicious cells that could be an early warning sign of cervical cancer, a disease often due to a sexually transmitted infection known as the human papillomavirus (more commonly known as HPV).
Who Should Get a Pap Smear?
While most young women will begin seeing their gynecologist once they are sexually active or by the time they turn 18, most OBGYNs won’t recommend getting a Pap smear until around 21 years old. If you are still a virgin, you and your gynecologist will discuss whether you require a Pap smear since the risk of cervical cancer for those who’ve never had sexual intercourse is rather low.
Of course, there are other risk factors that could increase your chances of developing cervical cancer. During your first gynecological exam, your gynecologist will sit with you and discuss your medical history at length to determine when you should get your first Pap smear.
Are There Ways to Protect Yourself From Getting Cervical Cancer?
As we mentioned earlier, a lot of cervical cancer cases are due to HPV. Given that HPV is a sexually transmitted disease, the most obvious way to protect yourself against the infection is either to remain abstinent or practice safe sex. This means using a condom every time you have sex, which can reduce your risk of becoming infected. Using spermicidal gels can also protect against HPV.
It’s also important that you and your gynecologist discuss whether you could benefit from getting the HPV vaccine, a process that involves three separate shots spread out over six months. While most girls get the vaccine during their pre-teen years (11 or 12 years old), any young woman between the ages of 9 to 26 years old should consider getting the HPV vaccine to protect against most forms of cervical cancer.
Need More Info? Call Us Today!
Do you have questions about getting a Pap smear? Do you need to schedule your next annual gynecology exam? Whatever the case might be, don’t hesitate to call CornerstoneMD's North Dallas office at (469) 801-8480 to schedule your appointment with our very own Dr. Carolyn Ross Riley.
Find out when you should start getting regular Pap smears and why this test is important to your health.
While no woman is excited to visit their OBGYN for their annual appointment it is vitally important to any woman’s reproductive health. These visits can help us detect potential or early problems so that we can treat them right away. We are here to let you know why a Pap smear is an important test that every woman should get and when you should start getting one.
Once your daughter becomes a teenager it’s time to consider a trip to the gynecologist. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology advise young women to visit their OBGYN for the first time between 13 to 15 years old. While it may seem a bit young to visit the gynecologist, this first exam will be pretty brief. Besides an external examination to make sure everything is healthy, this is also a great time to establish rapport between your teenage daughter and their gynecologist. After the first visit, it’s recommended that you continue to come in once a year.
Especially during your teen years, a lot of changes are happening and it can be important to have a doctor that you can turn to when your teen has questions or concerns. These visits can be a great time to talk about contraception, managing menstrual symptoms or even changes happening to the body. It’s also never too early to start talking about sexually transmitted diseases and ways to prevent pregnancy.
Of course, when it comes to getting an internal examination and a Pap smear the standard age for a healthy woman is 21 years old. These tests are then performed about every three to five years (if results come back negative). During a Pap smear, cells are scraped from the cervix and tested to check for any changes that could warn of cancerous or precancerous cells. In some cases, your gynecologist may also recommend getting the HPV vaccine to protect against genital warts and some forms of cervical cancer.
Do you have questions about getting a Pap smear? Need to schedule your next appointment? No problem. Call your gynecologist, Dr. Carolyn K. Riley in Dallas, TX, today.