You should still consider regular Pap smears after 20years of age, regardless of your sexual activity status. That’s because the HPV virus can be dormant for years and then suddenly become active.
Women over the age of 65 with a history of normal Pap smear results may be able to stop having the test in the future.
Try to avoid having sexual intercourse, douching, or using spermicidal products at least 48 hours before your test because these may interfere with your results.
In most cases, it’s safe to have a Pap smear in the first 24 weeks of a pregnancy. After that, the test may be more painful. You should also wait until 12 weeks after giving birth to increase the accuracy of your results.
Since Pap smears go more smoothly if your body is relaxed, it’s important to stay calm and take deep breaths during the procedure.
Pap smear is a screening procedure for 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.
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.
Your doctor will scrape a small sample of cells from your cervix. There are a few ways your doctor can take this sample:
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.
Pap tests are very accurate. Regular Pap screenings reduce cervical cancer rates and mortality by at least 80 percent . It can be uncomfortable, but the brief discomfort can help protect your health.
When a smear is reported as inadequate, it usually means that not enough cells from the cervix were in the sample for the lab to give an accurate result.
There can be several reasons for this:
About one in 50 samples are inadequate
If you have any discharge or irregular bleeding, it is important that you report to your doctor. This may need investigating or treating before you have your test repeated.
It is important that samples are not taken when you are having a period. Sometimes your doctor may suggest that you use a cream or gel that you put inside your vagina for a couple of weeks before having your test repeated.
If this is your first inadequate test and your next one is inadequate, you will be advised to have it repeated again.
If you have three inadequate tests in a row, you will be referred to a gynaecologist for further test.
The main purpose of a Pap smear test is to identify cellular changes in the cervix, which could be caused by HPV.
By detecting cervical cancer cells early with a Pap smear, treatment can start before it spreads and becomes a bigger concern. It’s also possible to test for HPV from the Pap smear specimen, too. And this test should be done every 5 years.
You can contract HPV from having sex with men or women. To lower your risk of contracting the virus, practice sex with a condom or other barrier method. All sexually active women are at risk for contracting HPV and should get a Pap smear at least every two years.