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Pap Smear: All the Details You Wanted

Written and reviewed by
Dr. Anju Ahuja 93% (625 ratings)
DGO, MBBS
Gynaecologist, Delhi  •  36 years experience
Pap Smear: All the Details You Wanted

The Pap Smear Test or the Pap Test is a screening test for cervical cancer. This test helps in detecting the possible growth and presence of precancerous as well as cancerous cells within the cervix - the opening of the uterus. This test was named after the doctor who discovered its use when it comes to detecting the signs of the early onset of this kind of cancer.

Let us find out more about the Pap Smear Test:

  • Reasons: The main reason behind getting a Pap Smear Test done on a regular basis is to rule out any risk or sign of cervical cancer. Also, it can help in detecting the 40 sexually transmitted viruses that may be lurking around in your system. It is a fact that genital warts are born from the presence of the Human Papillomavirus or HPV which can be of 100 different types - out of which 40 lead to STDs. These STDs can be the start point of cervical cancer.
  • HPV and the Pap Smear test: The Pap Smear Test may not be able to detect the exact kind of virus, but it can easily detect any cellular growth and changes that may be caused due to the virus. This helps in homing on to the risk or the beginning of cancer. In case this is detected, then the treatment can start before the problem becomes too difficult to manage.
  • Candidates: The perfect candidates for the Pap Smear Test include women who have crossed the age of 21 years or above. Also, women who have a weak immune system due to the presence of the HIV virus also need to get this test done regularly as they are prone to risk of contracting cancer and infections, more than others. Once a woman over 30 years of age has had three normal Pap Smear readings in a row, she can ask her doctor to schedule her for a Pap Smear Test once in five years.
  • Preparation: To begin with, you must ensure that you are not menstruating on the day of the test, in which case it will have to be rescheduled. Avoid having sex at least a few nights before the test as well.
  • Procedure: The procedure for the test is pretty quick, but a little uncomfortable. The doctor will ask you to lie down before putting your legs up in stirrups and then insert a speculum into the vagina so as to extract sample cells for testing. The scraping action may cause mild pain later.

Get in touch with your doctor about getting regular Pap Smears to rule out the possibility of cervical cancer.

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