A Pap smear, also referred to as a Pap test, generally screens for cervical cancer. The procedure tests for abnormal cells in your cervix that may be precancerous or cancerous. At the same time, you can also be tested for human papillomavirus (HPV), a very common sexually transmitted infection that most sexually active people get at some point in their lives. Although HPV usually goes away by itself, certain types can be linked to cervical cancer, so it’s a good idea to also test for HPV. Dr. Cha offers Pap and HPV co-testing.
It’s recommended for women to start getting Pap smears once you’re 21. From then on, you should get these tests done once a year, as they’re usually administered during annual exams. You may need more frequent tests if you’re HIV positive or if you have a weakened immune system from chemotherapy or an organ transplant. If you’re over 30 and have had three normal Pap smears in a row, you can consult with your doctor about getting them less frequently, about every five years, if combined with an HPV screening.
If you’re over 65, with a history of normal Pap smears, you no longer need these tests.
Pap smears only involve a few minutes of slight discomfort, although generally painless.
At the doctor’s office, you’ll lie back with your legs spread and propped up by stirrups as your doctor inserts a device into your vagina.
This device, called a speculum, keeps your vaginal walls open so your doctor can access your cervix to scrape a small sample of cells.
This sample is then sent to a lab to test for abnormal cells.
Light cramping or bleeding right after a Pap smear is normal. Let your doctor know if these symptoms persist a day after testing.
The two results that are possible from a Pap smear are either normal or abnormal.
A normal, or negative, Pap smear means no abnormal cells were detected.
An abnormal, or positive, Pap smear means that there are abnormal cells present in your cervix, which isn’t automatically indicative of cancer. The cells may simply be an inprecancerous. There are five levels of abnormal cells:
Mild abnormal cells tend to be more common than severe ones, but depending on your test results, Dr. Cha can recommend what to do next. She may recommend either increasing the frequency of your Pap smears to note any cell changes or taking a closer look via a colposcopy exam or biopsy procedure.
This is a just a list of some of the insurances accepted at Women's Health Specialist of North Atlanta. Please call our office to confirm that we accept your plan.
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