If you are a woman between the ages of 25 and 69, it is recommended that you have a pap test (also known as a pap smear) completed every three years. The purpose of a pap smear is to collect cells from your cervix, which is the lower end of your uterus. The cells collected in a pap smear can detect if you have cervical cancer or suspicious cells that indicate you may develop cervical cancer.
Pap smears can be a bit uncomfortable, but the test is very quick.
During the procedure, you’ll lie on your back on an examination table with your legs spread and your feet resting in supports or your heals touching. Your doctor will slowly insert a device called a speculum into your vagina. This device keeps the vaginal walls open and provides access to the cervix. Then your doctor will scrape a small sample of cells from your cervix. There are a few ways your doctor can take this sample. Some use a tool called a spatula, some use a spatula and a brush, and others use a device called a cytobrush, which is a combination spatula and brush. Most women feel a slight push and irritation during the brief scraping.
The sample of cells from your cervix will be preserved and sent to a lab to be tested for the presence of abnormal cells.
After the test, you might feel mild discomfort from the scraping, or a bit of cramping. You could also experience very light vaginal bleeding immediately following the test. Tell your doctor if discomfort or bleeding continues after the day of the test.
The Rocky Primary Care Network along with the Rocky Medical Clinic has developed a Well Woman Pap Clinic. Ladies, if you haven’t had a pap test done in the last three years, expect to hear from us.