It's a good feeling knowing you're healthy and that you are doing your part to stay that way.
Who should have a Pap smear?
What does a Pap smear tell us?
How is a Pap smear done?
For the exam, you will be asked to lie on your back on the exam table, bend your knees and put your feet on the foot rests. The doctor will want you to let your legs rest out to the sides. The important word at this point is RELAX. Concentrate on letting your muscles go soft and take slow, easy breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. The more relaxed you are the more comfortable the exam will be. A speculum is gently inserted into the vagina, then opened to allow the examiner to see your cervix. When the cervix is in good view a sampling of cells is taken from the cervix or vaginal wall by gently scraping a wooden spatula and soft brush on your cervix. You may feel a pressure feeling and maybe a small cramp. The cells are placed onto a glass slide and sent to the laboratory to be examined.
Which women are at greater risk for abnormal Paps?
Planning for your Pap smear.
These facts help the doctor and the specialist looking at your cells to decide if your Pap smear is normal or not.
If you are having your period at the time of the exam, it is best not to have a Pap done that day. You should also avoid douching or using vaginal cream for at least 24 hours before having a Pap smear.
Some abnormal Pap smears are due to infections of the cervix or vagina. Many abnormal Pap smears caused by infection will return to normal once the infection is treated.
It is not possible to remove every cell of the cervix with a Pap smear. Therefore, cells that are taken for the Pap smear can be normal and the cells remaining on the cervix may be abnormal. This does not happen often, but it is possible. This is another reason to have Pap smears regularly.
What will happen if your Pap smear is not normal?
Further testing may be needed. Colposcopy, an office procedure, may be used to help the doctor view the cervix with a microscope to look for infection or any abnormal cells on the cervix or vaginal wall. This would help him/her to see signs of infection or any abnormal cells. If an area on the cervix does not look normal, the doctor may want to take a biopsy (sample cells) for further testing.
What are the warning signs of cancer?
It is also important to realize that there are often no warning signs, therefore, it is important to have regular Pap smears.
Most women with abnormal Pap results can look forward to a normal Pap smear in the future with appropriate treatment and follow-up.
In summary, there are many good reasons to make the choice to have a Pap smear. It is a simple procedure. A Pap costs little. It is a source of valuable information. It can help prevent further health problems. You are doing something for yourself. You can also get a general physical at the same time. It can be a time to ask questions about other health topics. It can leave you with the positive feeling of knowing you made a "smart choice and a good investment for your health".
THINK OF YOUR YEARLY PHYSICAL AS AN IMPORTANT WAY OF TAKING CARE OF YOURSELF. YOU ARE WORTH IT!
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Pre-cancer of the cervix is an abnormal growth of cells on the cervix (the opening of the womb). If not treated, some of these cell growths may become cancer. Because of improved screening tests, cancer of the cervix is becoming less common in the United States.
There are no signs or symptoms related to early cervical cancer, so a pelvic exam of the female sex organs is needed to test your cervix. During this exam, cells are gently scraped from the cervix and later examined under a microscope. This is the basic Pap smear. Although not perfect, it is a good screening tool for cancer and precancer of the cervix. A Pap smear is suggested for all sexually active women or by age 18. It should be repeated every one to three years based upon individual risk.
Women at greater risk for pre-cancers include those who:
Some low grade pre-cancer may disappear without treatment. Some will remain and slowly grow into cancer over several years. If you have an abnormal Pap smear, you may be scheduled for a repeat Pap smear or colposcopy in a few months. A colposcopy is a close exam of your cervix using a special microscope. Samples will be taken of the areas that look abnormal. Examination of the samples will determine if more treatment is needed.
Treating pre-cancer tissue after sampling may include:
Cervical cancer can be prevented, if you follow through with regular Pap smear examinations.
Last modification date:
Thu Aug 23 12:28:57 2007