A Pap smear, also known as a Pap test, is performed to diagnose cervical cancer, which is generally associated with human papillomavirus (HPV) infections, which are transmitted through sexual contact. This test consists of scraping cells from this area to be later seen under the microscope and see if there is any sign of cancer or other problems. At FastlyHealwe, explain what vaginal cytology is and what it is for
What is it, and what is it for
Pap smear is a diagnostic test performed to examine cells from the cervix, which is the narrowest part of the uterus. The objective is the early detection of cervical cancer or lesions that can cause serious long-term problems, generally caused by HPV, since it can alter the structure of the cell and transform them into malignant cells.
This test can cause discomfort and discomfort for most women, and there may be slight bleeding after the test. To do the Pap smear, you must lie on a table and place your legs in stirrups, and the doctor will insert an instrument called a speculum to achieve a more significant vaginal opening and be able to observe the cervix. With a tiny spatula, scraping is carried out on the internal and external parts of the cervix, and these samples are sent to the laboratory for further evaluation.
How often should I have a Pap test?
Cervical cancer can be found early with gynecological visits every year. This test is performed from the age of 21, and the frequency with which you should have a Pap smear is:
- Get a Pap smear every three years.
- If you are over 30 years old and HPV has been ruled out, you can have a Pap test every five years.
- From the age of 65, you can stop having a Pap smear if you have had three negative results in the last ten years.
- If you’ve had a hysterectomy, this test may not be necessary.
Preparation for Pap smear
It should be noted that this examination is completely outpatient, must be performed in a health center, and is carried out by a doctor or nursing staff. The aspects that you should take into account before having a Pap smear are:
- Inform your doctor about the medications you take if that is the case.
- Do not douche within 24 hours before the exam.
- Have sexual intercourse
- Don’t use tampons.
- Do not schedule a Pap smear if you are menstruating, as blood could alter the results.
- Let your doctor know if you are allergic to latex.
- Urinate before taking the test.
- If you think you are pregnant, check with your doctor. Pap smears are usually done but with a slight variation.
Results of a Pap smear
The abnormal cytology results can be seen reflected as follows:
- ASCUS: means that there are cells that present changes that are not very clear and that generally disappear without treatment. In case these changes get worse, they must be treated.
- Low-grade intraepithelial lesion or SIL: like the previous one, it does not require treatment. However, it is necessary to have frequent monitoring if these cells become malignant.
- Low-grade intraepithelial lesion indicates abnormally large cells with a high probability of evolving into cancer. It does not disappear spontaneously, as in previous cases, and a complete study and treatment are necessary.
- Squamous cell carcinoma: means that there are cancer cells.
If your exam has returned abnormal results, your doctor will tell you if you should have another Pap smear or if they will perform more detailed tests such as a biopsy.
This article is merely informative. At FastlyHeal .com, we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any condition or discomfort.
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I am a Surgeon with a diploma in comprehensive ultrasound and surgical care residency, an area I am specializing in. During the exercise of my profession, I have realized the need for patients to know the diseases they suffer, and I can tell you that a large part of their complications is due to a lack of information. Being a health web writer allows me to transmit my experience, without borders, to all those readers eager for knowledge, educate them in the prevention of diseases and promote a healthy lifestyle.