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Parkway Women & Fertility Clinic

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PAP SMEARS

What is a Pap smear?

A Pap smear is a test your doctor does to check for signs of cancer of the cervix. The cervix is part of your uterus (womb). 
pap smears test
During a Pap smear, your doctor takes a sample of cells from your cervix to be tested and examined.

To take the sample, your doctor will put a special instrument called a speculum into your vagina. This helps open your vagina so the sample can be taken. Your doctor will gently clean your cervix with a cotton swab and then collect a sample of cells with a small brush, a tiny spatula or a cotton swab. This sample is put on a glass slide and sent to a lab to be checked under a microscope

What is the sample checked for?

The cells on the slide are checked for signs that they're changing from normal to abnormal. Cells go through a series of changes before they turn into cancer. A Pap smear can show if your cells are going through these changes long before you actually have cancer. If caught and treated early, cervical cancer is not life-threatening. This is why getting regular Pap smears is so important

What should I do before the test?

Plan to have your test done at a time when you aren't having your menstrual period. Don't douche, use a feminine deodorant or have sex for 24 hours before the test.

How often should I have a Pap smear?

You should have your first Pap smear when you start having sex or by age 18.

Continue having a Pap smear once a year until you've had at least 3 normal ones. After this, you should have a Pap smear at least every 3 years, unless your doctor thinks you need them more often. Keep having Pap smears throughout your life, even after you've gone through menopause. Certain things put you at higher risk of cervical cancer. Your doctor will consider these when recommending how often you should have a Pap smear.

If you're older than 65, talk with your doctor about how often you need a Pap smear. If you've been having Pap smears regularly and they've been normal, you may not need to keep having them.

Breast Examination

A breast examination is an important part of routine physical checkups.

A clinical breast exam may be recommended more frequently if you have a strong family history of breast cancer.

Breast exams are best performed soon after your menstrual period ends, because your breasts will not be as tender and swollen as during your period. This makes it easier to detect any unusual changes. If you have stopped menstruating, schedule the yearly exam on a day that's easy for you to remember, such as your birth date