How a Pap Smear Can Save Your Life

hysterectomy, Pap Smear, Cervical cancer, Plano, Texas, gynocologist

It’s estimated that 13,240 women in the United States will receive a new diagnosis of cervical cancer each year. Around 67% of women survive at least five years after the initial diagnosis. While these statistics are staggering, there is good news. Increased screening through the use of Pap smears has significantly reduced the incidence of cervical cancer during the last few decades.

Our doctors at North Texas Obstetrics and Gynecology Associates understand the importance of Pap smear screenings. In fact, we believe that receiving Pap smears isn’t just a routine measure, but a life-saving procedure. Here are the essential facts about Pap tests you need to know.

Pap smear 101

Part of a routine vaginal exam might include a Pap smear. During this procedure, your doctor uses a small brush or spatula to gently remove cells from your cervix, which connects your vagina and uterus. These cells are examined under a microscope to look for cervical cancer or changes to cervical cells that might lead to cancer. Other conditions can be found from a Pap smear, such as inflammation and infections.

How is a Pap smear performed?

While you are lying on the exam table on your back, your physician will have you place your feet into a set of stirrups. They will insert a speculum into your vagina to widen it so that they can see the upper portion of your vagina and cervix. The brush is then inserted into the vagina to collect the cells.

You shouldn’t feel pain during the Pap smear, but it can be a bit uncomfortable. You might experience cramping or mild bleeding after the exam. However, heavy bleeding or severe cramping isn’t normal. If you experience anything other than mild discomfort, give our office a call to discuss your symptoms with our care team.

Do I need a Pap smear?

Most women between 21 and 65 should have a Pap test done as part of routine care. You might think that if you’re not currently sexually active, have received the HPV vaccine, or have gone through menopause that you don’t need to have a Pap smear. However, doctors recommend a Pap test for women according to this schedule:

If you’re over the age of 65 or have had a hysterectomy, speak with your physician to find out if you need to have a Pap smear done. Having a test for human papillomavirus (HPV) might also be part of your health screening and could change the frequency that you need to have a Pap test.

HPV is a viral infection that can lead to cancer. Some patients may need to have screenings more often, too. Our doctor can set up a screening plan specific to your needs and personal health history.

Understanding your Pap test results

Our doctor will review your test results with you. You will be told that your results fall into one of three categories. Here are the basic things you need to know about test results:

Having a Pap test is an essential part of your care as a woman. Cervical cancer and other conditions can be found during this routine test that can save your life. If it’s time for your Pap test or you’re unsure when your next screening is due, call our Plano, Texas office today to schedule your life-saving appointment.

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