A Pap smear or Pap test is a routine procedure used to screen women for cervical cancer. The whole examination is quite simple, as it only requires a swab of cells from the woman’s cervix for testing.
The board certified physicians at La Grande Family Medicine provide pap smears and cervical cancer screenings at our office in La Grande, OR. Learn about the importance of regular pap smears and schedule your appointment today.
It is advised for women to begin receiving regular Pap smears starting at 21 years of age. These tests usually occur every 3 years, but some individuals will likely be asked to perform Pap smears more often based on certain risk factors such as:
Some women also prefer to complete Pap smears more often than every 3 years for reassurance regarding their health, though this is not necessary. It will be your responsibility to communicate to your doctor about what is best for you moving forward with Pap smear testing.
There are a few situations in which regular Pap smears will no longer be recommended for certain women. These cases include women who have undergone a hysterectomy that was performed for a noncancerous condition, as well as women who are over the age of 65.
Women within this older age range are usually exempt from Pap smears if they have received them regularly throughout their lifetime and have never had one of these tests come back with positive results for cancer. However, you should absolutely discuss other potential risk factors with your doctor before suddenly stopping your recommended Pap smears.
There really is not much that goes into preparing for a Pap smear, though it is advised to avoid scheduling your test during your menstrual cycle, in addition to avoiding having intercourse or using any substances that may enter the vagina (jellies, douches, etc.). All of these activities are best to refrain from because they may alter the cells of the cervix, which could lead to incorrect Pap smear results.
The entire procedure will take place in your physicians’ office. It will begin by laying down on your back with your feet rested in stirrups. Once in position, your doctor will use a speculum to open the vaginal walls and insert a spatula to gather cells from the cervix.
After a sample has been collected, these cells are taken to a lab to be reviewed for signs of cancerous activity. It typically takes a couple of days to determine the results of the Pap smear, but the exact time frame will depend upon your particular physicians’ office.
The board-certified women’s health specialists at La Grande Family Medicine are here for all of your preventative care and reproductive needs. Call our office at (541) 963-4139 to schedule your Pap smear today.