For a Pap test, at Encee Medical Center, we will collect and examine cells from your cervix. The cervix is the opening to the uterus. We will do this test to screen for cervical cancer and other problems.
It’s important to talk with us about when and how often you should have a Pap test. Experts base screening guidelines on your age and risk factors for cervical cancer.
- If you are age 21 or older, you should start cervical cancer screening, even if you are not yet sexually active.
- If you are younger than 30, you can likely be tested for cervical cancer every three years instead of yearly.
- If you are older than 30, pap smear can be done every 3 years, and co-testing with HPV every 5 years.
- If you are at high risk for cervical cancer, you may need screenings more often than the guidelines for the average risk woman suggests. Especially if you have a weak immune system or have been treated for abnormal cervical cells in the past.
- If you are up to 65 years old, you should decide with your healthcare provider when to stop cervical cancer screening, provided you have met the requirements for discontinuing screening.
- If you’ve had both your uterus and cervix removed (total hysterectomy), you do not need cervical cancer screening unless you’ve had past surgery for cervical cancer or pre-cancer.
Why do I need a Pap test?
A Pap test, along with a pelvic exam, is an important part of your routine healthcare as a woman. It can help find abnormal cells that can lead to cancer. At Encee Medical Center, we can find and detect most cancers of the cervix early if you have regular Pap tests and pelvic exams. Cancer of the cervix is more likely to be successfully treated if it is found early.
The Pap test is useful for finding cancerous cells, and other cervical and vaginal problems such as precancerous cells and inflammation.
At Encee Medical Center, we use Pap test to diagnose the following conditions:
- Abnormal cells
- Precancerous cells
Your healthcare provider may do a test for the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) at the same time as a Pap test. Infection with HPV is the most important risk factor for cervical cancer in women over age 30.
Your healthcare provider may have other reasons to recommend a Pap test.
What are the risks for a Pap test?
If you are allergic to or sensitive to latex, we would love to know.
If you are pregnant or think you might be, please let any of the specialists know about your concerns.
Tell us about all medicines (prescription and over-the-counter) and herbal supplements that you are taking currently.
We would like to know when you had your last period, and what type of birth control or hormone therapy you are using if any.
Tell us if you have a history of bleeding disorders or if you are taking any blood-thinning medicines (anticoagulants), aspirin, or other medicines that affect blood clotting.
Do not use vaginal medicines, spermicidal foams, creams, or jellies, or douche for 2 to 3 days before the test or for the time interval recommended by your doctor. Avoid sex within 24 hours before the test.
It is advisable to empty your bladder before the procedure.
What happens during a Pap test?
Generally, a Pap test follows this process:
- You will be asked to undress from the waist down and put on or cover up with a hospital gown.
- You will lie on an exam table, with your feet in stirrups.
- An instrument called the Speculum will be inserted into your vagina. This will spread the walls of the vagina apart to show the cervix.
- A small brush, swab or spatula is then used to gently remove cells from the cervix and back of the vagina. The doctor will then place the cells in a vial of liquid or smear the cells on a glass microscope slide.
- If you need an HPV test, our specialist will take a sample of cells for this test as well.
- If you have symptoms of a vaginal infection, the specialist may take a sample from the vagina for testing.
- The specimen is now sent to a lab for further study.
What happens after a Pap test?
You may rest for a few minutes after the procedure before going home. Scraping the cervix may cause a small amount of bleeding. You may want to wear a sanitary pad for any spotting that may occur.
Tell your healthcare provider if you have any of the following:
- Excessive bleeding
- Foul-smelling drainage from your vagina
- Fever or chills
- Severe abdominal pain
Pap test results usually take a few days. Ask your healthcare provider how you will contacted about the results and. Abnormal results may require further investigation known as colposcopy which is also done at Encee medical center.