PAP SMEAR FAQ's
A PAP smear is a screening test that involves collecting cells from the cervix (the lower part of the uterus) to examine them for any abnormalities.
PAP smears are crucial for early detection of cervical cancer and precancerous conditions, which can be treated effectively when found in their early stages.
Most guidelines recommend that women start getting PAP smears at the age of 21 and continue every three years. The frequency may change based on age and risk factors, so consult your healthcare provider.
During the procedure, a healthcare assistant / gynecologist uses a speculum to open the vaginal canal, then gently scrapes a small sample of cells from the cervix using a spatula or a brush. The cells are sent to a laboratory for examination.
Most women report minimal discomfort or a mild sensation during the procedure.
It is not painful.
Commonly, screenings can be started at age 21 and can be repeated every three years until they reach 30. those with an abnormal result may require more frequent exams. After age 30, PAP smear can be done every three to five years.
It's generally best to schedule a PAP smear when you are not menstruating, as menstrual blood can affect the results. However, your healthcare provider can advise you on whether it's still possible.
Abnormal results can indicate various conditions, from minor cell changes to precancerous or cancerous cells. Further tests, such as a colposcopy or HPV test, may be needed to determine the exact cause and appropriate treatment.
PAP smears are a highly effective screening tool, but they are not foolproof. False negatives and false positives can occur. That's why regular screening is important.
It's generally safe to have a PAP smear during pregnancy, and it is recommended for pregnant women who are due for their regular screening. Discuss any concerns with your healthcare provider.
No, they are different tests. A PAP smear examines cervical cells for abnormal changes, while an HPV test checks for the presence of the human papillomavirus, which is a major risk factor for cervical cancer. Often, both tests are done together.
PAP smears are generally safe and have minimal risks. Some women may experience mild spotting or discomfort after the procedure. Serious complications are rare.
Approximately 5% of results could be abnormal. Then further testing with sonography and MRI will be recommended to rule assess for cancer.