About Pap Smears


Pap Smears And Pelvic Exams


What Is A Pap Test?


Getting a pap test is an exam that checks for abnormal cells within the cervix. The smear can normally check for any infections, cancer and/or cancerous cells. A pap test and pelvic exam can save your life if it picks up cancer cells and caught early. Early stages of cervical cancer can be treated and possible even cured.

Cervical cancer screening includes two types of screening tests: the Pap test and Hpv testing. In regularly screened populations, the Pap test identifies most abnormal cells before they become cancer. Getting a pap smear is not every woman's favorite thing to do. They can be a little uncomfortable; but being a little uncomfortable for a few minutes to help save your life, is well worth it. Does Every Woman Need A Pap Test?

It's really important that every woman still continue to get their pap tests according to the CDC. Even women who have had a hysterectomy should still receive a yearly pap and pelvic exam. If you are 21, you should get a pap every year regardless. If you have gone through menopause, it's strongly recommended still that you receive your yearly exams. When a woman turns 65 years old, they say you may speak with your doctor to consult about continuing your exams.

Should I Get An Exam If I Don't Have A Cervix?

The answer is to simply ask your physician. If you have had cervical cancer prior, there is a chance (depending on the stage and type of cancer you had), that the cancer can recur. If you were to have cancer again, if it were to recur, it could return as vaginal or vulva (or other areas). Check with your doctor to see what he/she feels is right for your situation.

March 15, 2014 Update:


FDA: Pap Smears Could Soon No Longer Be The Standard in diagnosing cervical cancer. Experts are now recommending that the HPV screening test be used and approved for testing for cervical cancer as the first step instead of a pap smear. Sometimes the test is used in conjunction with the Pap smear. However; it's still very unclear how long or if the ruling actually takes place. According to research, the Hpv test may see the cells progression clearer than the pap smear.

Getting A Pap Smear

The gynecologist will have you lie on your back and scoot down towards the end of the table and place your feet in the stirrups.  It's natural to be nervous, especially if this is the first time getting a pelvic exam.  Take slow deep breaths to help relax you. Remember, if you are tense, your muscles will also be tense and it will be a little more uncomfortable.  The doctor will insert the speculum, (which will be well lubricated with jelly) and expand it. Next, they usually use a brush or a swab stick to gather the cells for testing. 

During a Pap smear, a speculum is used to open the vaginal canal and allow the collection of cells from the outer opening of the cervix of the uterus and the endocervix. The cells are examined under a microscope to see if there are any abnormal cells. Infections may also be found in a pap smear.

  1. Planned Parenthood (800) 230-7526
  2. American Cancer Society (800) 227-2345
You can get more information on pap smear and pelvic exam testing by contacting Planned Parenthood and more information by contacting the American Cancer Society.

Watch What Happens During A Pap Smear


About Pap Smears

A pap smear is done to try and detect any pre-cancerous and cancerous cells in the cervix.  Any abnormalities are often followed by more diagnostic procedures and tests. If needed or if warranted, interventions are done to prevent progression to cervical cancer.

The Hpv Test

Hpv testing is used to look for the presence of DNA or RNA from high risk Hpv types in cervical cells. These tests can sometimes detect HPV infections. The most common test that's performed detects DNA from the high risk Hpv types, but it cannot identify the specific types that are present, if any.

What Happens During A Pap Smear Exam?

When getting a pap smear, the gynecologist will have you lie on your back and scoot down towards the end of the table and place your feet in the stirrups.  It's natural to be nervous, especially if this is the first time getting a pelvic exam. Take slow deep breaths to help relax you. Remember, if you are tense, your muscles will also be tense and it will be a little more uncomfortable.  The doctor will insert the speculum, (which will be well lubricated with jelly) and expand it. Next, they usually use a brush or a swab stick to gather the cells for testing. 

During a Pap smear, a speculum is used to open the vaginal canal and allow the of cells from the outer opening of the cervix of the uterus and the endocervix. The cells are examined under a microscope to see if there's any abnormal cells. Infections may also be found in a pap smear.


Preparing For A Pap Smear Before Your Test

  • What Not To Do At Least 24 Hours Prior:
  • Do not douche
  • Don't use tampons
  • Don't use perfumes or body sprays
  • No Creams or powders
  • Should I Get A Pap Smear Done If I Am On My Period?
The answer is, no.  Doctor's recommend waiting until after your cycle to start your pap exam. According to the CDC, the best time to schedule your exam is 10 to 20 days after the first day of your last menstrual cycle.  This gives them more accurate to stable results.

Preparing For A Pap Smear
Before Your Test

What Not To Do At Least 24 Hours Prior:
  • Do not douche
  • Don't use tampons
  • Don't use perfumes or body sprays
Remember: Getting a pap smear and pelvic exam is crucial to any woman, especially if you are sexually active.