Everything You Need To Know About Your Pap Test


Most women aren’t exactly fond of Pap tests. They may find them uncomfortable, scary or even unnecessary, but the truth is this test can save your life. And despite the success it has in detecting cervical changes, about 1 out of 10 American women skip this vital screening. So when it’s time for you to have your next Pap test, don’t dismiss its importance.

Why have a Pap test?

Early on, cervical changes don't cause symptoms. Often, the only way to know you have cervical changes is to do a Pap test. A Pap test can find these problems early, when they are easier to treat. Pap tests can also detect changes of the cervix and vagina, including:

What is a Pap test?

During a Pap test, your doctor uses a cotton swab or wooden stick to collect a small sample of cells from your cervix and vagina. Those cells are then sent to a lab, where they are viewed under a microscope to detect any abnormalities.

When should you have a Pap test?

It’s important to talk with your healthcare provider about when and how often you should have a Pap test as it may vary based on your age and risk factors for cervical cancer.

Currently, it is recommended that women ages 21 to 65 have regular Pap tests. And the latest research shows that the test isn’t needed every year, instead you should have it once every 3 years.

However, women at a high risk for cervical cancer may need one more often. If you are older than age 30, your doctor may also request a human papillomavirus (HPV) test at the same time as HPV causes most cases of cervical cancer.

Prepping for Your Pap test

Generally, you do not need to do anything to prepare for this test. But there are certain things that may interfere with Pap test results, these include:
  • Menstruation
  • Use of things, such as vaginal creams, jellies, medicines, or spermicidal foams, for 2 to 3 days before the Pap test, as these substances may alter the pH of the cells or hide abnormal cells
  • Douching for 2 to 3 days before a Pap test as douching can wash away surface cells
  • Sex within 24 hours before the test may cause inflammation of the tissue
  • Infections
  • Certain medicines, such as tetracycline

The perfect place for your Pap test

Finding the right doctor for your Pap test is important. But it shouldn’t stop there. With the experts at Gwinnett Physicians Group OB/GYN, you will better understand all aspects of your gynecologic health.

Whether you need help with family planning, preventative care or just a routine check-up, the dedicated team at Gwinnett Physicians Group OB/GYN will ensure that you receive the most complete and thorough care possible in every stage of life. 

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