A Pap smear is a critical part of preventive women’s health care. If you’re due for a Pap smear or a well-woman exam, contact Aspire For Women Obstetrics and Gynecology in Englewood, Colorado. Grace Holub, MD, and Leslie Scariano, MD, provide expert women’s health services, including Pap smears, to help you protect and improve your health. Call Aspire For Women Obstetrics and Gynecology, or make an appointment online today.
A Pap smear is a simple test that allows your physician at Aspire For Women Obstetrics and Gynecology to check for signs of cervical cancer or other cell abnormalities on your cervix. A Pap smear is often combined with a human papillomavirus (HPV) test.
During the test, you wear a hospital gown and lie on a treatment table with your feet in stirrups. Your doctor places a speculum into your vagina to hold it open. Then, they use a thin wand with a small brush on its tip — it resembles a mascara brush — to collect a small sample of cells from your cervix.
The whole process only takes a few minutes and isn’t painful. You might feel some pressure from the speculum.
Cervical cancer, abnormal cells, and HPV don’t typically cause any symptoms in their early stages, but can progress into more severe conditions when left untreated. A Pap smear is the most effective way to diagnose these conditions in their early and easily treated stages.
When undiagnosed and untreated, cervical cancer can progress, causing pelvic pain, abnormal bleeding, and infertility. It can eventually spread to other parts of your body, putting your life at risk.
Young women should start to have Pap smears when they become sexually active or turn 21, whichever comes first. Women under the age of 30 should have a Pap smear every three years unless you have an increased risk of cervical cancer.
Between the ages of 30-65, you should continue to have Pap smears every three years, or if you have a combined Pap smear and HPV test, you can be tested every five years. You can stop having Pap smears around the age of 65.
First, if you have abnormal Pap smear results, don’t panic. In most cases, abnormal results are inconclusive, and your doctor needs to repeat your Pap smear. If your results show abnormal cells, your doctor might perform a colposcopy to examine your cervix in more detail or take a biopsy for further testing.
Your physician can remove abnormal cervical cells with cryotherapy and loop electrosurgical excision procedures (LEEP). You also need to have more frequent Pap smears, so your doctor can monitor your health more closely.
Call Aspire For Women Obstetrics and Gynecology, or make an appointment online today if you’re due for a Pap smear.