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The Importance of a Pap Smear

Surgery and Medical

An annual gynecologic exam is important for any female, whether you are sexually active or not. This exam is the time for your doctor to be sure that you are physically well and to answer any questions you may have about women’s health. Of all the tests and treatments performed by your doctor, a Pap Smear is high on the list of priorities to preserve gynecologic health and to help prevent cervical cancer.

What is a Pap Smear?

A “Pap test” is a routine test that checks for abnormal cell changes in the cervix. During your pelvic exam, the doctor takes cells directly from the cervix with a brush. The collection of these cells only takes a few seconds and is not painful.

Why is a Pap Smear necessary?

Cervical cells usually appear abnormal before they become cancerous. Because of this, the Pap test can lead to treatment and prevention of cervical cancer. This is necessary because it is one of the few routine tests that can actually PREVENT cancer!

Do I need a Pap Smear after a hysterectomy?

Whether or not you need a Pap Smear after you’ve had a hysterectomy depends on the type of hysterectomy. It’s best to consult your doctor for specific recommendations. Typically, if you still have your cervix after your hysterectomy, then you should continue to have Pap tests. After the age of 65, the frequency of the tests may lessen depending on your doctor’s approval. When it comes to such a beneficial test, it’s better to be safe than sorry!

When should Pap Smears begin and how often?

Although the first gynecologic exam is often before age 21, Pap Smears are started at this age. After that, the current recommendation is every 3 to 5 years in low risk women and more often in women with risk factors or a history of an abnormal Pap Smear.

 


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