What is a Pap smear?
A Pap smear is a screening test that is used to detect cervical cancer in women. The test can also detect abnormal cells in the cervix before they become cancerous thus making it a life-saving tool. Apart from cervical cancer Pap smear can also detect certain infections such as the Human Papilloma Virus, and inflammations.
Who needs a Pap smear?
All women aged 21 and above should get a Pap smear done.
How often do women need a Pap smear?
Depending on your age, health history, and results of previous Pap tests the frequency of tests needed will be determined. In general, younger women need it more often (once in three years) and women above the age of 65 may not need it if they have had normal test results and don’t have any other risk factors.
How is a Pap smear done?
A metal or plastic tool is inserted into your vagina, this enables your gynaecologist to see your cervix following which, your gynaecologist uses a sterile brush or spatula to gently scrape cells from your cervix which are then examined microscopically.
Is the Pap test painful?
Pap test is not painful, you can however feel some discomfort during the procedure.
How long does it take to perform the test?
It just takes a few minutes to perform the Pap test.
How can I prepare myself for a Pap test?
Before scheduling a Pap test, keep in mind the following-
- Refrain from being sexually active two days before the appointment
- Do not use any medicines, or creams in your vaginal area two days before the appointment
- Make sure you do not schedule your appointment during your periods
What does an abnormal test report mean?
An abnormal Pap smear is not always indicative of cancer, it could just mean that some cells in your cervix are not normal or are in a precancerous state and you may need some preventive measures and additional follow-up appointments with your gynaecologist.
This is general information issued in the public interest. Please contact your doctor for more details.