Pap smear, HPV, and Cervical Cancer

What is the Pap smear?

  • The Pap test, also called Pap smear, is used to find cervical abnormalities long before they become actually a threat to your well-being. The Cervix is the lower part of the uterus (womb) that opens into the vagina (birth canal)
  • A major cause of cervical cancer appears to be a virus: Human Papillomavirus (HPV), that is transmitted sexually
  • Cervical cancer starts as changes called “dysplasia”, a precancerous phase, that is detectable on the Pap smear. The progression of “dysplasia” into cancer usually takes many years. Therefore, timely Pap smears should detect changes in the cells long before they become malignant, while the abnormal cells are easily treatable.

When to start Screening for Cervical Cancer ( 🙁 Pap smear):

  • Start Pap smear age 21 or within 3 years of being sexually active
  • Make sure to get your Pap yearly until the age of 30
  • Beginning age 30, women who have had 3 normal Pap test results in a row may get screened every 2 to 3 years
  • Routine HPV testing, along with the Pap, is beneficial for women 30 and older
  • Women 70 years of age or older who have had 3 or more normal Pap tests in a row and no abnormal Pap test results in the last 10 years may choose to stop having cervical cancer screening
  • Women who have had a total hysterectomy(cervix has been removed), may stop having cervical cancer screening. Exceptions are those who had a hysterectomy due to cervical carcinoma (or preinvasive changes) and women who had a hysterectomy without removal of the cervix

How can you improve the accuracy of your test?

  • No douching, vaginal medications, vaginal contraceptive products inserted in the vagina for 48 hours before the exam
  • No intercourse for 48 hours prior to your exam
  • Pap smear should not be performed while you are on your period. The best time for doing your Pap smear is Midcycle
  • Pap smear should not be performed if you are having any symptoms of vaginal infection. Take care of the infection first by making an appointment to see your health care provider
To discover your path to wellness and schedule a health assessment, contact us today.