Since Pap smear testing became widely available, deaths from cervical cancer have dropped precipitously. At Antheia Gynecology in East Windsor, New Jersey, the female-led team offers Pap smear testing is part of your well-woman exams. If you have questions about the role Pap smear testing plays in your health and wellness, call the office today or book a visit online today.
A Pap smear is a screening tool that looks for signs of cervical cancer. The importance of Pap smear testing in women’s health is difficult to overstate.
Pap smear testing usually takes place during routine pelvic exams at Antheia Gynecology. The process is quick and easy and provides a great deal of insight into the health of your cervical cells.
Current health guidelines from the American Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology suggest that women receive a Pap smear every three years from the age of 21. If you have a weakened immune system or are HIV-positive, you might need more frequent screenings.
Women who are over the age of 30 and have never had an abnormal Pap smear test can slow their screening schedule to once every five years.
The primary cause of cervical cancer is a viral infection called human papillomavirus or HPV. You can have HPV and have no signs or symptoms, and the disease can pass easily during various types of intimate contact.
The combination of readily available HPV testing and the recently developed HPV vaccine means that your daughters and granddaughters will have a far lower risk of cervical cancer.
HPV also causes various types of cancer in men, which is why adolescent boys are also vaccinated.
Your Pap smear takes place during your pelvic exam. As you recline comfortably on the exam table or chair, your gynecologist uses a special tool called a speculum to gently separate your vaginal walls.
A small brush or spatula removes a small sample of cells from your cervix. You might feel a sensation of brief cramping at this point in the process, but there is no significant pain.
The cells are sent to a lab for microscopic examination. If there are any signs of cancerous or precancerous changes, your doctor receives that information. You learn your results in a timely fashion, and if there are areas of concern, you come into Antheia Gynecology to discuss your next steps.
A colposcopy is usually the next step and is a noninvasive screening option that provides a magnified view of your cervix and surrounding tissues.
If you have additional questions or concerns about Pap smear testing or cervical cancer, reach out to the Antheia Gynecology team today. You can book a visit online, or call the office today.