Healthway Medical Group

Pap Smear

a women wanting to do pap smear test

What is Pap smear?

A Pap smear is a procedure to test for cervical cancer in women. The test involves collecting cells from your cervix – the lower, narrow end of your uterus that’s at the top of your vagina.

What does a Pap smear test for?

Early detection is crucial for any kind of illness, including cervical cancer. A pap smear would allow the doctor to detect any abnormalities early and give you a higher chance of cure. Noticing these abnormal cells is your first step in halting the possibility of developing cervical cancer.

What is cervical cancer?

Cervical cancer is a cancer that forms in the cervix, the organ connecting the uterus and vagina. HPV infection is the most common cause of cervical cancer.

At what age and how often should you do a Pap smear?

It is recommended that you get a pap smear every 3 years, starting from age 25. If you are at higher risk of cancer, discuss with your doctor when would be a good time to begin cervical cancer screening.

Women aged 30 and older can consider Pap testing every five years if the procedure is combined with testing for HPV, or HPV testing instead of the Pap smear.

If you have certain risk factors, your doctor may recommend more-frequent Pap smears, regardless of your age. These risk factors include:

cervix cancer and why you need to take a pap smear test

How can you prepare for your Pap smear?

If you are still menstruating, you should have your Pap smear two weeks after your monthly cycle begins, or up to a week before your next menstrual period begins. If you are in menopause, you can undergo a Pap smear at any time.

The following activities should be avoided 48 hours before your Pap smear:

  • Having a tub bath
  • Swimming
  • Sex

Avoid using the following products for 2 to 3 days before your Pap smear:

  • Lubricants
  • Spermicides
  • Vaginal creams and medications
  • Tampons
  • Douches

These activities and products may obscure or wash away any abnormal cells. Hence, you should avoid these activities and products to ensure adequate cell sample collection. Other factors that may influence Pap smear results include cervix or vaginal infection and the use of certain medications. If you are consuming any medication currently, please speak to your doctor beforehand.

an image of women getting a pap smear test

What happens during a Pap smear?

Pap smears may be a bit uncomfortable, but the test is over very quickly. It involves scraping away cells from your cervix to be examined for abnormal growth. During the procedure, the doctor will slowly insert a device called a speculum into your vagina. This device keeps the vaginal walls open and provides access to the cervix, for your doctor to scrape a small sample of cells from your cervix. Most women feel a slight push and irritation during the brief scraping. After the test, you might feel mild discomfort from the scraping or a bit of cramping. You could also experience very light vaginal bleeding immediately following the test. Speak to your doctor if discomfort or bleeding persists after the day of the test.