Your body is developed and you are now a fully grown adult. Congratulations!
Part of being an adult, of course, is growing up. And if you have a vagina you need to report to your friendly local gynecologist again and again.
You have most likely visited the gynecologist some time after you started menstruating. You may have discussed birth control options, but now the real fun begins – Pap smears!
What is a Pap smear?
A pap smear, The Papanicolaou test, Pap test, or cervical smear is a routine test done on women and people with vaginas to check the health of their cervix.
Your cervix is a tiny donut-shaped organ that acts as a passage between the uterus and vagina. It helps keep semen in or out of your body, letting the menstrual blood out, and creating mucus that tells you when you are ovulationand helps in maintaining your Vaginal flora.
Why do i need a Pap smear?
Pap smears are done to see if cancerous or precancerous cells of the cervix have developed.
This test can potentially save lives. By finding and removing You can prevent precancerous diseases cervical cancer around up to 95% all the time.
When do people get Pap smears?
Providers usually recommend getting your first Pap smear at twenty-one years of age and even getting it until you are sixty-five.
You can advocate having one before you are 21 if you've had sex for a while.
It is recommended that you get a Pap smear every three years before you are 30 years old, and less often as you get older – unless there are any signs of cervical cancer.
If you are not sexually active, your chances of developing HPV are minimal. However, your provider will still recommend getting a Pap smear as there are other potential risk factors that can increase the chance of cervical cancer, such as: B. Smoking cigarettes and a family history of it.
What happens during a Pap smear?
You made it to your appointment. What in the world should you expect now? How do you get cervical cells?
We have answers.
You will have a brief chat with your gynecologist about your sexual history, health, and other issues. They will then palpate your breasts and stomach to look for lumps or bumps.
Now the Pap part.
They have your legs put in footrests so they get the right angle. Then use a lubricated speculum to be able to see the vaginal canal all the way to the cervix. They then use a special stick or soft brush to collect cervical cells from the outside of your cervix.
These cells will then be sent to a laboratory for testing, and in most cases you will receive your results within a few weeks.
The test itself takes a few minutes at most.
How can I prepare for a Pap smear?
Hope we haven't scared you off yet, as there are ways to prepare to make this whole process easier for you.
- Try to schedule your appointment when you are not on your period. It's okay to have a Pap test while you're bleeding, but you'll want to avoid it if possible.
- Make a list of Questions to your gynecologistThis may relate to infections or questions about birth control.
- You can take ibuprofen or another OTC pain reliever an hour before your appointment to minimize discomfort.
- You can wear a panty liner, pad, or contemporary panties in case you spot stains afterwards.
- Be sure to pee beforehand so you don't have the added discomfort of a full bladder. If you also get a routine STI test, you may be asked for a urine sample at your appointment.
- Wear comfortable clothing to make life easier for yourself. You probably won't want to slip into tight jeans anymore if you can avoid it.
- Be ready to be honest with your gynecologist about your body and sexual history.
- Provide a history of sexual assault. If you are in any way uncomfortable with your gynecologist or seem unaware of trauma, you can switch providers.
What if my results are "abnormal"?
While abnormal test results can seem scary, they're pretty common.
You will usually have one HPV At the same time, test that looks for DNA from HPV in your cervical cells.
HPV is a STIand is not something to be ashamed of. It usually goes away on its own. There are more than 100 different ones Types of HPV, and at least fourteen of them are high risk or potentially carcinogenic. When providers do a Pap smear test, they often also test for HPV, which is known as a "co-test".
If your test is abnormal, your doctor will ask you to retest in six months to a year to see if there are any cancerous strains of HPV.
In most cases, the cervical cells regulate themselves, but you will likely need to do three consecutive "normal tests" about a year apart until you know.
Tests can also come back as abnormal or unclear if you have a yeast infection, non-cancerous cysts, or certain autoimmune diseases.
Things to consider
It is possible to do a "normal" test if cancer cells are present, a "false negative" and vice versa a "false positive".
You will need a separate STI test, which will most likely come from a urine sample.
The HPV vaccine can protect against certain strains of HPV that can cause cervical cancer. You can ask your provider for more information.
Good luck to you and your cervix, welcome to Pap Smear Club!