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Pap Smear: Purpose, Procedure, Results and Frequency

Pap smears are a crucial test that all women should have done as part of their routine exams. If you're at risk of cervical cancer, cervical screening is even more important for you.

What is a Pap Smear?

A pap smear is an examination of your cervical cells. Your doctor will examine changes in these cells that indicate whether the cells may turn to cancer in the future. Additionally, even if the cells turn into cancerous cells, the test can catch cancer early on to ensure that you get the treatment you need immediately.

What to Expect from Your Pap Smear Test

Women shouldn't schedule their tests during their periods because it can impact test result accuracy. Instead, you'll want to schedule your test when you're confident that you won't be on your period.

Your test results may be inaccurate if you're on your period.

You can expect to experience some discomfort during the procedure but no pain. While there's not much that you can do to prepare for the test, a few recommendations to consider are:

  • Avoid having sex for at least 48 hours before the test

  • Do not douche or rinse the vagina before the test

  • Don't use powders or sprays near the vagina

Additionally, you'll want to avoid insertion of any kind for at least two days before the test. Insertion does include tampons.

The procedure will take just a few minutes and will involve the practitioner taking a sample of the cells in your cervix. Your practitioner will insert the tool/speculum into the vagina during the procedure to allow the sample to be taken.

You might feel pressure or a pinch, but the procedure is otherwise painless.

However, if it is your first time getting a Pap test, it's certainly an interesting experience that is best described as uncomfortable. After all, it's not common for someone you barely know to be in your personal space. In fact, you can lessen the pain by emptying your bladder prior to the test.

Results should come back in just a few days. If there are any abnormalities, the test will come back positive. You will also be tested for HPV along with your pap smear.

How Often Should You Be Tested?

We recommend that you schedule a routine Pap smear test in Indianapolis IN with us on a regular basis if you're between the ages of 21 and 65. Typically, women will want to have a Pap smear performed every three to five years.

Depending on your current health issues, you may need to schedule an exam more often.

If you're over 65 and meet the following criteria, you can stop going for testing:

  • 2 normal co-tests (HPV and Pap), or

  • 3 normal Pap tests

Getting a Pap smear in Indianapolis IN is recommended for most women. Catching cervical cancer early on is key to beating it. While the test may be uncomfortable for some women, that doesn't mean that they're painful. Check the options that Bethany Monte, CNM has at My Midwiffe For Life.


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