Capital Women's Care
OBGYNs located in Manassas, Haymarket and Fairfax, VA
All women need to have a routine pap smear. When a patient goes in for their first one, they will discuss with their doctor about how often it needs to be done. Many women who have never had a pap smear will have many questions such as, “What is a pap smear and why is it done? Is it painful to have a pap smear? Who should get a pap smear? At what age should I get a pap smear?” At Capital Women’s Care, in Fairfax, Manassas, and Haymarket, Virginia, the board-certified doctors help answer all your questions and provide pap smears so you can be knowledgeable and healthy. To learn more, call your nearest office today or book an appointment online.
Pap Smears Q & A
What is a Pap smear and how is it done?
In medical terms, a pap smear is also called a pap test. A pap smear is a procedure, or exam, for doctors to test for cervical cancer in women.
When conducting a pap smear, your doctor will collect cells from the patient’s cervix. The cervix is the area in the lower narrow end of your uterus, this is located at the top of your vagina.
Conducting a pap smear routinely will help your doctor in detecting cervical cancer early, and this will give you a greater chance of being cured.
A pap smear can and will also detect changes in the cervical cells, these cells will suggest if there’s a possibility that cancer will develop in the future. Detecting these abnormal cells early with a Pap smear is often the first step in stopping the possible development of cervical cancer.
Why do I need a Pap smear?
A pap smear is primarily used to screen for cervical cancer in women. The pap smear is also typically done in conjunction with a pelvic exam.
For women who are older than the age of 30, the Pap test may also be combined with a test for human papillomavirus (HPV).
HPV is a very common sexually transmitted infection (STI) that can cause a woman to develop cervical cancer. In some cases, the HPV test may be administered instead of conducting a pap smear.
When should I get a Pap smear?
You and your doctor will partner together and will decide when is the best time for you to begin having routine pap testing and how often you should have the test. In most cases, doctors will recommend beginning routine Pap testing when the patient is at the age of 21.
How often should I get a Pap smear?
Doctors will generally recommend having repeated Pap testing every three years for women that are between the ages of 21-65. Women who are the age of 30 and older can talk to their doctor to consider Pap testing every five years if the procedure is combined with an HPV test.
Another option is that your doctor might have you consider HPV testing instead of the routine pap test.
If you happen to have certain risk factors, your doctor may recommend you to have more frequent pap smears regardless of your age. Some of these risk factors can include:
- You have a diagnosis of cervical cancer or have had a pap smear test that shows precancerous cells
- You had exposure to diethylstilbestrol (DES) before birth
- You are diagnosed with HIV infection
- You have a weakened immune system due to having an organ transplant, chemotherapy or chronic corticosteroid use
- You have a history of smoking
You and your doctor will discuss the benefits and the risks of pap smears and will then decide what is best for you and your health.
To schedule your Pap smear, call Capital Women’s Care today or book an appointment online.