Rancho OBGYN

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Pap Smear Test

A procedure in which cells are carefully removed from the cervix using a small brush or spatula to examine them under a microscope for signs of cervical cancer or cell mutations that could lead to the development of cervical cancer. In addition, a Pap smear can help detect other conditions such as infection or inflammation.


Women should begin obtaining pap smears at the age of 21 to detect cervical cancer. Women between the ages of 21 and 29 who have a normal pap smear test should only have it redone every three years after that. Women over the age of 30 should have their cervical smears checked for the human papillomavirus (HPV) presence.

Detection of cervical cancer

Cervical cancer can be detected earlier and treated more effectively using a Pap smear. Additionally, a Pap smear can detect changes in your cervix’s cells that indicate the development of cancer in the future. Preventing cervical cancer is the first step in preventing it from forming. This is accomplished by discovering abnormal cells as early as possible with a Pap test.


If you have specific risk factors, your doctor may suggest more frequent Pap smears regardless of your age. These risk factors include the following:


  • Cervical cancer diagnosis or a Pap smear demonstrating precancerous cells.
  • Infection with HIV
  • Immune system impairment as a result of organ transplantation, chemotherapy, or long-term corticosteroid use
  • Prenatal exposure to diethylstilbestrol (DES).
  • Smoking’s history
pap smear test

Who has the competence to consider discontinuing Pap smears?

In some circumstances, a woman and her doctor may decide to discontinue Pap testing, such as the following:



  • Following complete hysterectomy. Check with your doctor if you need to continue obtaining Pap smears following a total hysterectomy – surgical removal of the uterus and cervix.
  • Suppose you have a hysterectomy for a benign ailment, such as uterine fibroids. In that case, you may be able to forgo routine Pap smears.
  • However, suppose your hysterectomy was performed to treat a precancerous or cancerous cervix condition. In that case, your doctor may urge that you continue with routine Pap tests.
  • Age. Doctors generally agree that women who have previously tested negative for cervical cancer should consider discontinuing routine Pap testing at 65.
  • Consult your physician about your options; together, you can determine what is best for you based on your risk factors. If you have several sexual partners, your doctor may urge that you continue Pap testing.

Preparation of Pap Smears

It would be beneficial if you were not scheduled for a Pap smear during your period. Significant bleeding can impair the test’s accuracy. If your test is planned during that time of the month, inquire with your doctor about rescheduling.
Doctors recommend the following steps 48 hours before your Pap smear for the most reliable results.
  • Avoid intercourse and the use of lubricants.
  • Avoid using sprays or powders in close proximity to the vagina.
  • Nothing, including tampons, pills, creams, and suppositories, should be inserted into the vagina.
  • Avoid rinsing the vaginal area with water, vinegar, or any other liquid (douche).

Risks of pap smear testing

Cervical cancer screening with a Pap smear is a safe procedure. However, a Pap smear is not 100% accurate. It is possible to have false-negative findings — that is, the test will indicate that there are no abnormal cells present, even if you do have abnormal cells.
A false-negative result does not necessarily indicate that an error occurred. Several factors can contribute to a false-negative development, including the following:
  • An insufficient cell harvest
  • A few aberrant cells
  • The aberrant cells are obscured by blood or inflammatory cells.
Although aberrant cells might remain undiagnosed for an extended period, time is on your side. Cervical cancer develops over several years. And if one test fails to discover aberrant cells, the subsequent test is almost certain to do so.

Preparation methods


To maximize the effectiveness of your Pap smear, follow these guidelines prior to your test:


  • Intercourse, douching, or the use of any vaginal medications or spermicidal foams, creams, or jellies should be avoided for two days prior to a Pap smear since these may wash away or mask suspicious cells.
  • Avoid scheduling a Pap test during your menstrual cycle. If possible, avoid this time of your cycle.


What to anticipate throughout the Pap smear


A Pap smear is a simple procedure that takes only a few minutes at your doctor’s office. You may be asked to remove your entire garment or only your waist.


On an exam table, you’ll lie on your back with your knees bent. Stirrups support your heels.


Your doctor will place a little device known as a speculum softly into your vagina. The speculum separates the walls of your vagina, allowing your doctor easy access to your cervix. When the speculum is inserted, you may experience a pressing sensation in your pelvic area.


Then, your doctor will collect cervical cell samples using a soft brush and a flat scraping device called a spatula. This is usually not painful.

Following the pap smear


Following your Pap smear, you can resume your normal activities.


Depending on the type of Pap test you’re having, your doctor will transfer the cell sample retrieved from your cervix into a container containing a particular liquid to preserve the sample (liquid-based Pap test) or onto a glass slide (glass slide-based Pap test) (conventional Pap smear).


The samples are then sent to a laboratory to study cell features that signal cancer or a precancerous condition.


Inquire with your physician when you can expect the results of your test.

pregnant woman gynecologist doctor hospital



A Pap smear can detect the presence of abnormal cells that require additional testing.


Typical outcomes

If your Pap smear reveals exclusively normal cervical cells, you are considered to have a negative result. You will not require further treatment or testing until your next Pap smear and pelvic exam are due.


Unusual outcomes

A positive result indicates that abnormal or atypical cells were detected during your Pap smear. A positive test does not necessarily indicate that you have cervical cancer. What a positive result indicates varies according to the cell type detected throughout your examination.


If your Pap smear is abnormal, your doctor may perform a colposcopy technique in which the tissues of the cervix, vagina, and vulva are examined using a unique magnifying device (colposcope).


Additionally, your doctor may do a tissue biopsy on any spots that appear suspicious. After that, the tissue sample is sent to a laboratory for investigation and confirmation of the diagnosis.