Have You Scheduled Your Pap Smear Yet?

Have You Scheduled Your Pap Smear Yet?

Staying healthy isn’t just about eating nutritious foods and exercise. It’s also about doing regular maintenance that monitors for changes in your body.

One of the most important screening tests for women is the pap smear. This test is usually done along with a pelvic examination. Sometimes referred to as a pap test, this procedure will check for signs of cervical cancer.

Early cancer detection is essential for good outcomes. According to the American Cancer Society, over 13,800 new cases of invasive cervical cancer will be diagnosed this year. Around 4,360 women will lose their lives to the disease.

It sounds scary, but far more cervical pre-cancers are diagnosed than invasive cervical cancer. The statistics would be much higher if it weren’t for early detection tests like the pap smear.

Age is a factor in cervical cancer risk. It is rare in women younger than age 20. Most cases are reported in the 35 to 44 age group, with an average age of 50. Many women do not realize that their risk increases as they get older.

How Often Should I Have a Pap Smear?

Years back, women were advised to have a pap smear done every year. As medicine has advanced, we now have a better understanding of how cervical cancer forms. Doctors know that this type of cancer takes years to appear, which is why women are now advised to have pap smears less often.

The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists recommends the following pap smear schedule:

  • Women in the 21-to-29-year age group should have a pap smear once every three years. HPV testing may be recommended for women ages 25 to 29.
  • Women in the 30 to 65 age group should have a pap smear once every three years or a pap smear and HPV test once every five years.
  • Women over age 65 may be able to stop scheduling pap smears if they have never had cervical cancer, abnormal cervical cells, and had at least two or three negative tests in a row.

It is best to consult your gynecologist to ensure that you follow the ideal pap smear schedule based on your medical history. Even if you aren’t having a pap smear done this year, you should still schedule annual check-ups.

If you want to know what women can do to lower their cancer risk, a pap smear is a good place to start.

What Happens During a Pap Smear?

The average pap smear is usually a quick and easy procedure. Your doctor will ask you to undress and put on a hospital gown or cover-up. You will lie back on an exam table with your feet resting in stirrups.

Your doctor will insert a speculum into your vagina. This device holds the vaginal walls apart so that they can reach the cervix. A small brush is used to remove cells from the back of the vagina and cervix. These are stored in a vial or placed on a microscope slide for examination.

Additional samples may be taken if you are also having an HPV test done or if you are showing symptoms of an infection.

The specimen is sent to a lab for study. Speak to your doctor to find out when you should expect to hear back about the results.

Signs That You Need to Have a Pap Smear

It is important that all women can identify the signs that they need to schedule a pap smear. The earlier cervical cancer is found, the more likely it is that you’ll get a positive outcome. What signs should you look for that could indicate it’s time to call your doctor for a non-routine pap smear?

  • Vaginal bleeding that happens between periods
  • Vaginal discharge with an unpleasant odor
  • Vaginal bleeding that happens after sex
  • Unusually heavy period bleeding
  • Unexplained pelvic pain
  • Pain during sex
  • Pain while urinating

If you notice any other changes in your body, it’s best to consult a medical professional. Even something small can indicate an underlying problem that needs treatment.

Schedule Your Next Pap Smear Now

Schedule your next pap smear now to stay on track with your health. Complete Women’s Healthcare is available to provide screenings and other services. We can help you come up with a routine that works best for you and your medical needs. Our doctors provide full-service care, including:

  • Clinical breast exams
  • Contraception counseling
  • STI prevention and treatment
  • Hysterectomy
  • Laparoscopy
  • Tubal Ligation
  • Endometrial biopsy
  • Routine physical exams

Get in touch today to learn more about our women’s healthcare services.

Following through with regular cancer screenings is a good way to live healthier for longer. You can also try 10 summer health tips for women to stay well during the warm season.