What You Need to Know About a Pap Smear Test

Pap smear Test:

Also known as a Pap test or a smear test, a Pap smear is a non-invasive procedure used by doctors to look for changes in the cervical cells. Changes in the cervical cells have been associated with cancer, pre-cancer or HPV. Without treatment, cervical cancer may spread to other areas of the reproductive system such as the uterus, and ovaries. During the test, a specialized physician removes microscopic samples of these cells through the vagina and tests them as part of the cancer-screening program. Because HPV results in most cases of cervical cancer, people also opt to test for it. Dr. Daniel Roshan is a recognized expert in obstetrics and gynecology, who can perform a range of examinations to help catch reproductive problems early, and treat them successfully.

Who Needs a Pap smear?

Following new research, it is no longer necessary that Pap smear tests be done annually and for every female. Nowadays, only females older than 21 need to go in for pap smear tests. From the age of 21 to 29, screening can be done every three years. Women aged between 30 and 65 can get an HPV and Pap smear test done every 5 years and those over 65 years of age with a previous history of tests need not screen anymore. Additionally, women who have had a hysterectomy procedure done don’t need to get screened.

The Procedure:

The Pap smear test, done as part of a gynecological visit or wellness exam, requires the patient to be nude from the waist down. You will be covered in a sheet to make you feel more comfortable. You’ll be required to lie down with your back on the exam table and legs in stirrups.

Pap Smear Test

The doctor inserts a speculum into the vagina to help separate the walls and facilitate easy access to the cervix. You will feel some slight pressure as the doctor opens the speculum but this is normal. Next, a thin stick or brush is inserted into the vagina all the way to the cervix, where the doctor will brush away the cervical cells into a petri dish to be taken into the lab for testing. Some women notice slight spotting a day or two after the procedure but this is also normal.

Results:

Most clinics and hospitals offer results a few days after the procedure. If the results are normal, you will not need another Pap smear test for the next three years at least. Only if the results are abnormal will the health facility contact the patient. If the results show any abnormality in terms of cell growth, it does not mean you have cancer only that your cells have changed. The doctor will require additional testing to investigate why the cells have changed. According to research, Pap smear tests are less effective in women with obesity and they will, therefore, need frequent follow-up exams.

Treatment:

If you’re found to have cancer cells, the doctor will recommend a procedure to have them removed. There are many options for removal, which include an electrical current or a laser beam. The doctor will numb the cervix or offer sedation during the removal procedures. If you’re found to have HPV, you may not require treatment. HPV is an asymptomatic condition, which means you don’t experience any symptoms if you have it. However, HPV can cause other bothersome conditions like genital warts, which can be removed by creams and other treatments.

Author: Robin Gupta