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There are two simple words that strike fear into women the world over and they are “pap smear”.
A pap smear test can prove to be so intimidating it can cause many women to put off having one for years, and yet they risk their health by doing so because of the worry they have of going into those stirrups at the doctors.
However, it’s very dangerous to miss your pap smear tests, and the apprehension that you may feel is unnecessary.
In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about pap smears (don’t worry, it’s nothing intimidating) and hopefully, it’ll help decrease your worry of going for one…
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What’s A Pap Smear Test?
A pap smear test, or sometimes referred to as just a pap test, is a simple medical test performed on a women’s cervix to check for signs of any pre-malignant or malignant cells.
Regular pap smear tests can show up abnormalities in a woman’s cervix and whilst the tests are not 100% accurate, they should be a vital part of your preventive healthcare routine.
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Who Needs To Have A Pap Smear Test?
Doctors recommend that women should begin to have pap smear tests from the age of 21, and then take another test every 2-3 years.
And once you reach the age of 30, doctors recommend that you take a pap smear test every three years. The period between tests can be stretched out to every five years if they are taken in conjunction with a HPV test.
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Why Having A Pap Smear Test Is Important
Pap smears are used to detect the early stages of cervical cancer disease in women. Just like with the majority of cancers, the treatment for cervical cancer is at its most effective if it is spotted and treated as early as possible.
Another benefit of having an annual pap smear test is that you get to meet up with your doctor where you can raise, as well as seek help on any other female health issues that you may have.
When Is The Best Time To Have Pap Smear Test?
The most ideal time to take a pap test is between ten to twenty days after your last menstrual cycle.
How To Prepare For Your Pap Smear Test
Two days before having a pap smear test, you must not douche, have sex, or use tampons, vaginal lubricants, spermicides or any form of feminine deodorants whatsoever.
This is because all of the above can cause irritation to the cervix. So by avoiding all of the above items, you will help to ensure that the test collects an adequate cell sample.
Questions Your Doctor May Ask You Before Performing A Pap Smear Test
Prior to your doctor conducting the pap smear test, he/she will first of all record your weight and blood pressure, and conduct tests to see if you are pregnant.
Your doctor will also examine your breasts for any lumps, ask you questions about your menstrual cycle, and also whether or not you’re on any medication or birth control pills. Besides that, he/she will also conduct tests to find out if you’re suffering from any sexually transmitted diseases such as syphilis or gonorrhea.
And finally, prior to conducting the pap smear test, he/she will give you access to related resources and information which you may require.
How Is The Test Carried Out?
To carry out the pap smear test, the doctor will place you on the examination table and then very carefully insert a medical device called a speculum into your vagina. He/she will then use the speculum to open the vaginal area slightly wider, which will then give him/her a better view of your cervix.
Your doctor will then take a swab from your cervix using a small brush or cotton swab to collect skin cells from the surface of your cervix. The cells will then be sent off for analysis to test for the presence of any abnormal cells.
Admittedly this whole process can make you feel uncomfortable for a moment or two, but overall it’s a painless process, and the whole testing process is over in a couple of minutes.
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