Pap test- What is it?
Pap test (Papanicolaou test) also known as a cervical smear, pap smear, cervical screening is a screening for the cervical area which will detect potential pre-cancer and cancer in the cervix (Cervix is the opening to a uterus or womb). It is a microscopic examination taken from the uterine cervix.
This test can detect viral infections of human papillomavirus or HPV. This is the virus which is known to cause cervical cancer. It is of utmost importance to take the test as soon as possible because it is possible to stop cervical cancer and prevent it from developing any further if diagnosed early!
Some of the causes behind building up of this virus inside the body can be:
- Multiple sexual partners
- Weakened immune system
- Having intercourse at a very early age
- Previous lower genital cancer
Are there any symptoms?
A woman who is suffering from this type of cancer might not have any symptoms. However, the following can be experienced:
Pain in the pelvis area
Pain during a sexual intercourse
Abnormal, heavy, irregular or spotting
Pap smear procedure is not a complicated procedure and the patient will not experience any pain after the test. Pap test is done when a woman is not in her menstruating period. It is recommended that the following things can be avoided two days prior to the test:
Vaginal medications, except the ones which have been prescribed by doctors.
Birth control foams, creams, etc.
I am nervous. What happens during the procedure? – Facing your fear
- The test will only take one minute
- A patient will be lying on the bed, back facing the bed and feet in stirrups rest
- The doctor will use a speculum, a plastic instrument to inspect the vaginal area.
- A sample of the cells or mucus will be taken using a small cervical broom or a brush
- The procedure is completed. The doctor will then take these samples and send it to the lab for a close evaluation. A cytologist (a person specialized in cells) will have a look at the sample. Most women will not feel anything during the test. Some might feel a slight discomfort, mostly due to anxiety and fear. Calming down and taking a breath, with legs relaxed will help overcome anxiety
Post-Pap test: The results of the Pap test can be positive or negative. A positive test result is not always cancer. It means that the cells are abnormal and not cancerous. You can return to the doctor for a follow-up care.