Pap smear testing is an essential part of routine well-woman care, and it’s a need that should not be overlooked. At Women's Health Choice in Virginia Beach, Virginia, Francine Olds, MD, offers Pap smear testing as well as many other screening options to help you enjoy a happy and healthy life. Schedule your visit today using the easy online booking tool, or call the office to speak with a member of the administrative staff.
A Pap smear is a test that screens for signs of cervical cancer. First introduced in the 1940s, this simple test is credited with a dramatic decline in the number of deaths due to cervical cancer.
Cervical cancer was once a leading cause of death among American women. It is a form of cancer that is easily treatable in the early stages, and Pap smear screening offers the opportunity to identify abnormal cellular changes even in the precancerous stage.
Today, women receive Pap smear testing as part of their routine well-woman exams. There is no need for advance preparation or recovery time, and the entire process takes just moments to complete.
Pap smear screening is performed during your routine pelvic exams. Once you are resting comfortably on the exam table or chair, Dr. Olds uses a device called a speculum to gently separate your vaginal walls. This allows her to visually inspect your vaginal tissues and a portion of your cervix.
She uses a special brush or spatula to gather a small number of cells from your cervix. You might feel a brief cramping sensation during the part of the process, but there is no lingering discomfort.
The cells are then sent to a lab for microscopic evaluation. Technicians look for any unusual changes in the cells. If there are areas of concern, Dr. Olds is provided with the results and will advise you on which screening steps come next.
Current medical standards hold that a woman should begin having Pap smear testing at the age of 21. From that point forward, you’ll need to repeat the process once every three years.
The primary cause of cervical cancer is an infection of the human papillomavirus, or HPV. Women who are screened for HPV can consider having a Pap smear once every five years. Those with previous Pap smear results that included cellular abnormalities, women with HIV, and those with a weakened immune system may need to be tested more frequently.
If your cervix has been surgically removed or if you are over the age of 65 you might be able to discontinue Pap smear testing. Just ask Dr. Olds if this approach is right for you.
If you have questions or concerns about the role Pap smear testing might play in your health journey, schedule an appointment at Women’s Health Choice today, online or over the phone.