A Pap smear is a simple and routine test that reveals important information about your gynecological health. It can show the presence of abnormal cells that suggest a sexually transmitted disease (STD) or a risk of cervical cancer. The team at the Women’s Center for Health and Wellness, led by Thomas Wood, DO, performs Pap smears at well-woman visits and conducts follow-up appointments if you should have abnormal results. If you’re due for a Pap smear, call the office in Fort Smith, Arkansas, or book an appointment online.
A Pap smear is a common screening tool that detects abnormal cell changes on your cervix. Abnormal cells may be a sign of the human papillomavirus (HPV), some strains of which can lead to cervical cancer.
Your doctor performs a Pap smear during a regular pelvic exam. They use a swab or brush to collect a sample of cells from your cervix that is then sent to a lab for analysis. The test doesn’t cause any pain, but you might feel some pressure for a brief moment.
HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease. It has more than 100 different strains and, while most don’t pose any significant health threat, a few strains can lead to genital warts and possibly cervical cancer.
A Pap smear helps your doctor monitor any cell changes on your cervix so they can intervene quickly should any show up as precancerous. Early intervention and removal of precancerous cells prevent cervical cancer by up to 95%.
Abnormal results on your Pap smear do not mean you have cancer. HPV is incredibly common and most sexually active men and women contract some strain at some point in their lives.
Often, abnormal results resolve on their own, so your doctor may recommend you repeat the test in a few months. If you continue to show abnormal cells, they may recommend you undergo a colposcopy, which involves a closer examination of your cervix with specialized equipment and a tissue sample for biopsy.
You should have a Pap smear at least once every three years between the ages of 20 and 29. After the age of 30 up until you’re 65, schedule a Pap smear every three years or an HPV test every five years.
For some women, a Pap smear and HPV test may be scheduled once every five years depending on your particular health and sexual history.
If you think it’s time for your Pap smear, don’t delay. Call Women’s Center for Health and Wellness or book online to make your appointment.