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Why Do I Need a Pap Smear?

Why Do I Need a Pap Smear?

Every woman, regardless of their sexual history, should have a Pap smear. This preventive test can identify cervical cancer in the earliest stages, so you can lower your risk for long-term complications.

At Raveco Medical, our team of experienced OB/GYNs offers comprehensive gynecology care services, including routine pelvic exams and Pap smears. We also offer guidance to help you maintain a healthy lifestyle to further reduce your risk for cervical cancer and other gynecologic conditions.

What to know about a Pap smear

A Pap smear is a diagnostic screening to identify precancerous or cancerous cells in the cervix. Cervical cancer starts when cells in your cervix multiply abnormally and group together to form tumors. Cancer that starts in your cervix can also spread to other areas of your body and become more difficult to treat.

When you have routine Pap smears, our gynecologists can identify and remove precancerous cells in your cervix before they become cancerous. We can also confirm cervical cancer in the earliest stage, when treatment is usually most successful.

In general, you should start getting Pap smears by the time you turn 21. Our team can discuss how often you should have this type of preventive test done based on your overall health and your risk factors for cervical cancer. 

Typically, we recommend every three years for women 21-65 unless you’re at high risk for cervical cancer.

What happens during a Pap smear

Before you have a Pap smear, it’s important that you prepare for the test ahead of time to have accurate results. Two days before your test, you should avoid intercourse, the use of douches and spermicides, and any vaginal medications.

If you have your period on the day of your Pap smear, you need to reschedule your appointment for a different day.

The Raveco Medical gynecology team performs Pap smears during a routine pelvic exam. The providers insert a soft brush in through your vagina to collect a sample of cells from your cervix at the narrow end of your uterus.

While you may feel some pressure or slight discomfort during a Pap smear, the procedure is quick. After collecting the cells, we send the sample to a medical lab to identify any signs of precancerous or cancerous changes in your cells.

Awaiting your Pap smear results

There are two possible results of a Pap smear – normal and abnormal.

Normal Pap smear results

If your Pap smear test is normal, it means there were no cancerous cells or precancerous changes in your cell sample. You won’t need to schedule any additional testing until your next routine pelvic exam.

Abnormal Pap smear results

If your Pap smear results are abnormal, it doesn’t mean you have cervical cancer. There are many reasons besides cancer that can trigger abnormal Pap smear results, such as infection or inflammation.

Following up on an abnormal Pap smear

After an abnormal Pap smear, you need follow-up testing. Our team can perform a colposcopy, using a special magnifying device to closely examine the tissues of your cervix, vulva, and vagina. 

During this procedure, the physicians can also remove a sample of tissue (biopsy) for further evaluation under a microscope.

Depending on the outcome of your additional testing, we can customize a treatment plan to remove abnormal cells from your cervix and prevent the spread of cancer to other areas of your body.

To schedule a Pap smear, call the Raveco Medical office nearest to you today or book a consultation online. 

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