A Pap smear test can save your life. They can detect the earliest signs of cervical cancer and can reduce your chances of developing certain reproductive issues. At Pavilion for Women’s Health and Wellness, Dr. Scott Dunkin and Dr. Eric Runyon provide this routine service to women in the Miami area and beyond. To schedule an appointment, use the easy, online booking system or call the office today.
A Pap smear is a routine procedure that is most often done during a well-woman exam, which is your regular annual gynecological appointment.
During a Pap smear test, your physician scrapes cells from the opening of your cervix, the lower part of the uterus that opens into the vagina. These cells are then examined in a lab under a microscope for any abnormalities.
The doctor will include a Pap smear as part of your routine healthcare if you’re 21 years or older, or if you’re younger than 21, but you’re currently or have been sexually active within the last three years.
It is important to note that there’s no age limit for a Pap smear, and even women who have gone through menopause should have routine Pap smears. However, women who are 65 to 70 years may discontinue routine Pap smears if they have had three normal Pap tests in a row, are not sexually active, and have no record of abnormal results in the past 10 years.
Doctors suggest avoiding certain activities two days before a Pap test since they may trigger incorrect results. These include using tampons, douching, using vaginal sprays, creams, or medicines, and having sex.
While you’re lying on an exam table, your doctor places an instrument called a speculum into your vagina. This instrument opens the vaginal canal enough for the doctor to see the cervix.
Next, they use a small brush to collect a few cells from inside the cervix. The cells will be sent to a lab and examined under a microscope for any abnormalities.
For most patients, the procedure is painless, but some women may find it to be a little uncomfortable. Your results are ready after one to three weeks. Along with a Pap test, your doctor can also perform a pelvic exam to check for redness, sores, discharge, and swelling.
If your doctor finds any abnormalities, you may have to schedule another appointment for further testing. Further testing after an abnormal Pap test can include a colposcopy, endocervical curettage, or a biopsy.
Requiring additional tests doesn't always mean that you have cervical cancer. It can be a false positive or an actual problem with the cervix.
Sometimes abnormal cells are precancerous and can be treated to prevent cervical cancer.