A Pap smear, cervical smear or Pap are tests that help to detect the presence of abnormal cells in the cervix. Pap smears may help to detect inflammation and vaginal infections. They can also identify for cervical cancer screening. According to experts, there is a schedule for when and how often you need to conduct a Pap smear.
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What to do when you have had a hysperectomy
You should ask your doctor if you can continue having Pap smears. Usually, you can stop these tests when the doctor removes the cervix during hysterectomy and there is no past record of cervical cancer.
How to prepare for Pap smear
If you want to improve the accuracy of Pap smear, then different things are there to avoid doing for the next 48 hours before conducting the test. These include –
- Enjoying sex
- Using medications or vaginal lubricants
- using tampons
- using powders or vaginal sprays
You should not conduct a Pap smear test during your periods.
What happens during Pap smear
During aPap smear, you will have to lie back at the examination table with the knees in upward position. After this, you need to place feet in stirrups on each side of the table.
The doctor will be placing a plastic speculum or metal in your vagina for holding it open. Then they will use a swab to scrape off lightly some cells and mucus on the cervix.
Most women will not suffer from any pain during the test, but you might feel slight pressure or pinching.
The doctor sends your samples at the laboratory for further evaluation under a microscope. He may even ask to perform HPV test. The test is mainly for women in the age group of 21 years and more who already have had unusual results for Pap smear and also for women within 30 years and older.
Results for Pap smear
The Pap smear is usually a kind of screening test that indicates the requirement to conduct further examination. According to studies, routine Pap smear screening can detect nearly 92 percent of cervical cancer cases. But there are cases of false-positive and false-negative results.
Most results for Pap smear test are normal which denotes you should continue to follow recommended schedule for other tests. These results can be “negative” test which means you have been tested negative for certain abnormalities.
Most Pap smear test results come back as normal. This means you’ve been given an all-clear and should continue to follow the recommended schedule for future tests. You may hear these results referred to as a “negative” test. That means that you’ve tested negative for abnormalities.
Sometimes, the test results for Pap smear can be unsatisfactory. This might mean several things such as:
- having insufficient cervical cells to perform accurate test
- cells could not be evaluated due to mucus or blood
- error in administering the test
The doctor will ask to get a private smear test immediately or ask you to return quickly than the scheduled retesting in case the results are unsatisfactory.
When the Pap smear results are unusual, it does not mean you have cervical cancer. Rather, it denotes some cells had been different from others. You can categorise abnormal results in two ways:
- Low-grade changes in cervical cells denote you are having HPV.
- High-grade changes mean you have had HPV infection longer. They can either be precancerous or cancerous.
When there are changes in the structure of cervix cells, they are said to be precancerous. You can remove these precancers at the doctor’s office with laser beam, electric current or liquid nitrogen.
The pre-cancers start growing quickly or in huge numbers to form cancerous tumors for women. When you do not treat it on time, the cancer may spread to their body parts.
Almost all cervical cancer cases occur due to different kinds of HPV. HPV can spread through anal, oral or vaginal sex.
HPV infection is quite common
There are chances of getting HPV at certain point in life. When you enjoy sex with at least one sex partner, you can still get the infection. The infection will remain in your body for years and you will not know about it.
Though there is no cure for infections with the kinds of HPV that cause cervical cancer, they usually go away within one or two years.
The screening for cervical cancer should begin from 25 years and people in the age group of 25 to 65 need to conduct a HPV test in every 5 years.
Many women do not show any symptoms for cervical cancer till they reach an advanced stage. Common symptoms include the following:
- Back or pelvic pain
- Heavy periods
- Pain at the time of urination
- Painful sex
- vaginal bleeding when you do not have period
- abnormal vaginal discharge having foul odor
Risk factors for cervical cancer
Certain factors might put you at greater risk for cervical cancer. Some of these are:
- immune system
- more than one sex partner
- sexually active at an early age
- diagnosed early with precancer or cancer of your cervix
- sexually active at an early age
- family members earlier diagnosed with cervical cancer
- your mother took synthetic estrogendiethylstilbestrolor DES during pregnancy
Your doctor might suggest further tests or other timelines, according to your past medical history. You should follow the advice of your doctor as he will be aware about your health care requirements.
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