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Pap Smear FAQs
What is a Pap smear?
A Pap smear is a routine cervical cancer screening test recommended for women between the ages of 21 and 65. It involves checking the cells in your cervix for signs of precancerous cells and abnormalities, reports DHHS.
Why do you need a Pap smear?
According to DHHS, a Pap smear can help you avoid cervical cancer by catching it in its precancerous stages so it can be effectively treated.
Who should have a Pap smear?
The DHHS recommends having a Pap smear if you are a woman between the ages of 21 and 65 years.
How often should a Pap smear be repeated?
You should have a Pap smear test every three years if you are between the ages of 21 and 29 years. If you are between the ages of 30 and 65, the DHHS recommends having a Pap test every three years, or once every five years if you combine your Pap test with an HPV test.
Where can I get a Pap smear in Billings?
You can get a Pap smear from your doctor during a well-woman exam or at an urgent care center that offers this service. Type “pap smear near me” into your Internet browser to find a nearby provider, or use Solv to locate quality, top-rated providers in your area that offer a Pap smear test.
How long do Pap smear results take?
Pap smear results usually come back within one to three weeks, says the DHHS. It recommends contacting your doctor’s office for results if you haven’t heard back within three weeks.
How do I prepare for a Pap smear in Billings?
A Pap smear test requires very little preparation, according to the NLM. The NLM says that the best way to prepare for your Pap test is to refrain from using tampons, douche products, vaginal creams, and birth control foams two to three days before your test. It also recommends not having sex during this time, and rescheduling your appointment for another day if you are on your period.
Does a Pap smear test for HPV?
According to the NLM, a Pap smear does not test for HPV. However, you can combine your Pap smear with an HPV test, and have this co-test done every five years. Consult with your doctor regarding when you should have an HPV test based on your age and screening history.
When should I get a Pap smear?
According to DHHS, you should have a Pap smear every three years after you turn 21 or once every five years after you turn 30 and want to combine your Pap smear with an HPV test.
About Billings Pap Smears
A Pap smear is a commonly-used medical test that screens for cervical cancer in women.Knowing more about Pap smears and where to find one can help you prevent or detect cervical cancer early on so you can receive treatment.
Pap smear overview
A Pap smear is a cervical cancer screening test for women. According to the National Library of Medicine (NLM), this test involves collecting a sample of cells from the cervix and checking them for signs of cancer. Women with precancerous cells on their cervix can work with their doctors to prevent or treat cervical cancer. A Pap smear is also known as a Papanicolaou test or Pap smear test, adds the NLM.
Pap smear (Pap test): What to expect
The purpose of a Pap smear is to look for the presence of cervical cancer and precancerous cells in the cervix. The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) reports that precancers in the cervix are usually caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV).
Pap tests are generally recommended for women between the ages of 21 and 65 years, adds the DHHS. Women should get a Pap smear every three to five years based on their age or as often as recommended by their healthcare providers.
A Pap test usually takes place during a pelvic exam or well-woman exam at your doctor’s office. According to the University of Utah, your doctor will usually ask you to remove your clothing from the waist down, lie on an exam table, and place your feet in stirrups. Then, your doctor will use a long cotton swab to collect a sample of cells from your cervix. Your cell sample will be sent to the lab where it is analyzed for signs of precancers and cervical cancer, noted the University of Utah.
Who needs a Pap smear?
The DHHS recommends a Pap smear for most women between the ages of 21 and 65 years. It suggests that women should still have regular Pap tests even if they are not sexually active, have had the HPV vaccine, or have already gone through menopause.
How often do you need a Pap smear?
If you are between the ages of 21 and 29, the DHHS recommends getting a Pap smear test once every three years. If you are between the ages of 30 and 65, you should have either a Pap smear once every three years or a Pap and HPV co-test once every five years, notes the DHHS.
The DHHS also recommends having a Pap test if you are older than 65 and have never been tested, or if you have not been tested since you turned 60.
How to prepare for a Pap smear
The NLM recommends against using tampons, having sex, douching, and using vaginal creams or birth control foams two to three days before your Pap smear. It also recommends scheduling a Pap smear on a day that you are not having your period. Aside from taking these steps, no other preparation is needed for a Pap smear, according the the NLM.
What happens during a Pap smear?
First, your doctor will ask you to remove your clothing from the waist down and lie on an exam table. Then, according to the University of Utah, your doctor will open the walls of your vagina using an instrument called a speculum, which provides your doctor with a clear view of your cervix.
Your doctor will then insert a long swab into your vagina and gently swipe it against your cervix to collect a sample of cells. Your cell sample will be sent to a lab where it is observed and analyzed for the presence of precancerous cells and cervical cancer, states the University of Utah.
The NLM says a Pap smear causes little to no discomfort for most women, though some women may feel some pressure and mild discomfort that feels similar to menstrual cramps. It adds that some women may also experience some spotting or bleeding afterward, which is completely normal.
What do the results of a Pap smear mean?
Pap smear results can come back normal or abnormal. Notes the NLMl. Your doctor will contact you to discuss your results after they are ready.
Normal Pap smear
A normal Pap result means that the cells in your cervix were found to be normal and that no signs of precancers or cervical cancer were found, notes the NLM. Your doctor will usually recommend coming back in three to five years for another routine checkup.
Abnormal Pap smear
An abnormal Pap result means there were abnormalities detected in your cervical cell sample, reports the NLM. This does not necessarily mean you have cervical cancer. The NLM adds that your doctor may recommend follow-up testing or treatments that can prevent your cell abnormalities from developing into cancer.
How accurate are the results?
The NLM states that the Pap test is not 100% accurate, and that cervical cancer may be missed in a small number of cases. It also recommends making sure you avoid having this test while on your period, as blood can make results less accurate.
Does a Pap smear test for HPV?
According to DHHS, a Pap smear test does not check for the presence of HPV. However, it does check for the presence of abnormal cervical cells, which may be caused by HPV. The DHHS recommends having a routine HPV test if you are aged 30 years or older.
Solv has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references.
- Pap Smear (July 31, 2020)
- Pap and HPV tests (January 31, 2019)
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- Pap test (February 4, 2022)
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