What is a Pap smear test?

Your cervix and vagina have cells that undergo changes; especially if cancerous cells have been developing within them. So a pap test is where a doctor collects few cells from this area and tests them for presence of cancerous cells among-st them. The cancer in your cervix, can grow at an alarmingly fast rate, and a pap test is the most efficient way of diagnosing the disease early on. The test aims to detect cells like cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) or cervical dysplasia.

When should you take the test? 

The age bracket for women contracting cervical cancer has widened deeply. So ideally, if you’re above the age of 21, you should get your cervix checked. You should then schedule an examination every two years.
For women above the age of 35, it is advisable to schedule a test every other year. If your reading is negative, even after you’re regularly getting yourself checked, then you can have one done every three-four years. Note that most doctors advice screening to stop at the age of 65.

How is a Pap smear test done & does it hurt? 

After a pelvic exam, a speculum is used to open the vagina so that the cervical cells can be collected. They are picked up by a medical brush. These cells are then tested for cancer. The procedure involves collecting of samples only, so it does not hurt. But it may cause slight discomfort.

How can you prepare for your Pap test?

  • Make sure you inform about all the medicines you are on; including birth control. These medications may affect your test results.
  • Mention if you’ve had an abnormal pap result in the past
  • Pap testing should be avoided if you’re menstruating. The blood may affect accuracy of the test result.
  • Avoid use of tampons and avoid having intercourse 24 hours before you have your test scheduled
  • Do not apply any vaginal medicines before the test