What is a Pap Smear

What is a Pap Smear?

A pap smear is a medical examination performed to look for abnormal cells or tissue growths in the cervix (the lower part of the uterus). A cervical cancer screening test.

How Is a Pap Smear Test Done?

The doctor will use special instruments to take samples from inside your cervix. These samples are sent to a lab where they are examined under a microscope. If there is something wrong with them, then the doctor may recommend further tests to check if you have cervical cancer.

What Is the Procedure of a Pap Smear Test?

A pap smear and HPV test are done at the same time. It is a completely painless procedure. The doctor or nurse will put some water-based lubricant onto a speculum, and then gently slide it into your vaginal canal. The speculum will hold the vaginal walls open (similar to how they are held open when you get a pelvic exam). The doctor will then squirt a small amount of the water-based lubricant onto your cervix, and then use an instrument called a “pap brush” to gently scrub your cervix. The excess water-based lubricant will be wiped off, the speculum will be removed, and that’s it!

What Are the Risks of a Pap Smear?

There is very little risk involved in getting a pap smear. There is a little discomfort when the speculum is first inserted into the vaginal canal and when the instruments are taken out. Some women might experience some light spotting for a day or two after the procedure, but this is rare.

How to Prepare for a Pap Smear?

There is no special preparation necessary for a pap smear. Just let your doctor or nurse know if you have any allergies, medical problems, or are currently taking any medications.

How Are the Results of a Pap Smear?

The results of your pap smear will usually come back in 1-2 weeks. If there are any abnormal cells or tissue growths, the doctor may order further testing to see if you have cervical cancer.

In case the pap smear shows any signs of cervical cancer, you will have to go for a colposcopy. This is a minor surgical procedure to collect a sample of cells from the cervix (which is then sent for testing). A colposcope is a small instrument that has a light and a magnifying lens.

It is used to examine the cervix. You may be given a local anesthetic, and a small sample of cells will be taken from your cervix. The procedure usually takes about 5 to 10 minutes.

Cervical cancer is an abnormal growth of cells on or within the cervix. It can either be “low-grade” or “high-grade.” Both types are serious, but high-grade is more likely to spread beyond the cervix.

In case of low-grade cells, a simple hysterectomy is recommended. If the situation is more serious and high-grade cells are detected, the doctor will probably recommend a combination of radiation therapy and chemotherapy.

How to Get the Best Outcome?

The best thing you can do is to get yourself tested through a pap smear. If you are sexually active, you should get tested every year (or every two years if you are over 30). If you are over 30 and have had three normal pap smears in a row, you may be tested every two to three years. If you are over age 65, only get tested if you have symptoms that worry you.

It is important to know that there are many different types of pap smears. The type most commonly used is the “cervical” or “vulvar” pap smear, which tests the health of the cells within the cervix and the vulva (the opening to the vaginal canal)

There are other types of pap smears as well. For instance, some doctors may perform a “vaginal” pap smear, which tests the health of cells from within the vaginal canal. Some doctors may also perform a “rectovaginal” pap smear, which tests the cells from the rectum and the vaginal opening.

What is a Pap Smear - - Image

A “endocervical” pap smear tests the cells in the cervix.

Another thing to keep in mind is that there are different types of testing that may be done with a pap smear. It is important for you to discuss your pap smear options with your doctor.

The “squamous” pap smear examines the superficial cells located on the exposed surface of the cervix. The “keratin” pap smear examines the cells on the cervix that are closer to the base of the cervix. The “high-risk” pap smear looks for any unusual cellular changes.

The “HIV” pap smear examines the cells on the cervix for the presence of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

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