You Need a Pap Smear Test Today, Here is Why
What is pap smear test and how is it carried out?
Cervical cancer is a preventable disease yet it accounts for the 2nd most common cancer among Nigerian women.
Receiving the Human Papilloma Virus vaccine is one of the means of curbing this menace as well as taking a Pap test.
The Pap test is lifesaving, painless and brief but most women frown at it because they do not know what it entails.
Learn what this test is about, why you should have it done today and what to expect during the procedure.
What exactly is Pap test?
Pap test ,also known as Pap Smear, is a simple procedure to test women for cancer of the cervix.
The cervix is the end of the vagina and the mouth of the womb.
The test involves taking a sample of the cervix to detect abnormal cells that may become cancerous in future.
Why is it important to do a Pap test?
- The symptoms of cervical cancer are unclear.
Abnormal discharges and vaginal bleeding are the warning signs of cervical cancer but they can be dismissed or mistaken for something else.
Doing a pap test is the best way to detect cervical cancer to treat as early as possible.
- If you’re sexually active, it is necessary to have the test
The more you are sexually active, the higher the chance you will contract human papilloma virus (HPV).
HPV is the organism responsible for most cervical cancers. What’s worse is that the use of condom does not protect you from it 100%.
- The HPV vaccine cannot protect you alone
The HPV vaccine only protects some and not all types of cervical cancer.
This does not mean the vaccines are useless, but having a pap test done adds icing to the cake.
- Pap tests are affordable
Yes, the procedure is relatively cheap.
If you are under a health insurance, call your provider to know if you’re eligible and have it done as soon as you can.
Read here to know why Health Insurance is a Must Have in 2021
- Pap tests are usually done along with pelvic exam
How often can I repeat a Pap test?
Women who are aged 21-65 are advised to do the test every 3 years.
Whereas, women aged 30-65 can do theirs every 5years especially if the test is accompanied with HPV test.
There are situations where it may be recommended to be done more frequently such as ;
- Having a weak immunity due to prolonged steroid use or chemotherapy
- HIV infection
- A diagnosis of cervical cancer
- A history of tobacco use and smoking
- A previous pap test that showed abnormal results
What to expect before, during, and after a Pap test
- In preparing for a Pap test, you will be asked to avoid sexual intercourse, douching or applying any cream or medication into your vagina 2 days before the appointment day.
- Do not schedule your appointment during your menstrual flow, it is best done 5 days after menses is over. These precautions are to prevent wrong results.
- A consent form is usually provided for you to sign as a legal document that proves you agree to having the test done.
- The test is done by a doctor or nurse in a designated office with a chaperone. It only takes few minutes.
- You will be asked to undress from your waist down or if a general body exam is to be carried out, you may be asked to undress completely.
- You will be asked to lie with your back on a firm examination couch with your knees flexed and your feet placed on stirrups.
- A speculum will be inserted gently into your vagina to have access to the cervix. You may feel pressure in your pelvis but it does not cause pain but if you do feel pain, let the doctor or nurse know.
- A swab stick will be used to swipe your cervix which will then be inserted into a pre-labelled specimen bottle or rubbed against a small piece of glass to be sent to the appropriate laboratory facility.
- The speculum will be removed after the procedure ends.
- You may be asked if you feel any discomfort.
- There is no restriction to activity or diet, you can live your normal life.
Results from a Pap test will inform your doctor if the cells from your cervix are normal or abnormal which will be communicated to you.
If the result is abnormal, more tests such as colposcopy and tissue biopsy will be carried out to have a definitive diagnosis. Locate a trusted lab here to get started.
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