A pap smear looks at irregular patterns in your cervix paving way for cervical cancer or any form of conditions leading to cancer. They do not detect cancer, but close to 95 % of cervical cancer is detected at a juncture that is not possible to detect with a naked eye. It is treated and cured at the shortest possible notice. They are not a criteria for sexually transmitted or gynaecological problems, but does indicate the presence of abnormal cells for which further examination or valuation may be needed.
The reasons for having a pap smear
It is voiced that women have a pap smear done once they touch 21. Recent medical reports do suggest that anyone below this age do not have to be part of this test, in spite of being sexually active. It should be undertaken at 3 years intervals till you touch 29. Women in the age bracket of 30 to 65 years can get the pap smear test undertaken in 3 or 5 year intervals. You would need to discuss it with your health care provider as some of them may recommend yearly testing as well.
Even if the doctor suggests that the Pap smear could be undertaken in a 2 to 3 year cycle, still a visit to a gynaecologist is a pre requisite. You would need to be part of routine pelvic or breast examination with other prevailing health conditions. It is recommended that women should have a pap smear done in the middle of their monthly periods or around 15 days after their last cycle. At least a couple of days before the test, women should not indulge in sexual intercourse, vaginal creams or douches. This could align with the results of the original test and lead to an abnormal result.
What is the test all about?
During a pelvic examination, a doctor with the aid of a brush is going to remove a few cells from the cervix. A certain degree of discomfort will be felt, but it is not that painful. On a microscope these cells are being placed and then send to the lab for testing. Accurate results are assured if you do not have any activity in your vagina a couple of days before the test.
What do the results indicate?
If the results are negative, then your cervix is normal. But a positive result indicates presence of abnormal cells in the cervix. This also goes by the name of an abnormal pap. This is not a diagnosis in any way and works out to be a mere test. If there is a positive result, in no way it would mean that you have cancer or dysplasia.
What it indicates though is that another round of evaluation is needed and medical mechanisms like
- Colposcopy- with the help of a magnifying cell you glance at the cervix
- Biopsy- from the cervix a small portion of a tissue is removed.
Your physician is going to discuss the test results with you. Out of ten, one may indicate some form of abnormality and in most cases it is not that serious to be concerned. On further course of testing it would be understood whether you have inflammation, HPV or even infection. Medical experts point that HPV is the main cause of cervical cancer.
Pregnancy and pap smear?
It is an integral aspect of pre-natal care and no risk to the developing baby is posed. If you have been detected with an abnormal pap smear during pregnancy, the doctor is likely to discuss the treatment options with you. It depends upon the stage of diagnosis, then the treatment could be delayed till the baby is born.
If your health care provider feels that a cervical biopsy or colposcopy is needed, then some form of bleeding from the exteriors could be detected. This is in no way a serious proposition. The onus is on your health care provider to recommend what is medically suitable for a patient. Sometimes additional pap smears may be performed during pregnancy. The birth of the baby is going to wash away the cervical cells.
To conclude, pap smears is a vital part of prenatal care, and is not safe during pregnancy. Your physician would need to find out if there exist any risks pertaining to cervical cancer and detect the presence of STD’s. This can lead to blindness or premature birth. During the course of your first pregnancy you are likely to have a Pap smear test.