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Pap smear, also known as cervical smear or Pap test conduct test for unusual cells in the cervix. It can help to detect inflammation and vaginal infections. They are used for cervical cancer screening.

When you can have a Pap smear

Women who are below 21 years need not perform Pap smear. Women who are within 21 to 29 years need to perform private smear test in every three years. Women who are within 30 to 65 years should perform pap smear in every five years and women who are 65 years or older, need to consult with the doctor and they might not need to undergo Pap smear.

How to prepare for Pap smear

  • Enjoying sex
  • Using tampons
  • Using powders or vaginal sprays
  • Douching
  • Using medications or vaginal lubricants

Thus, you should not have a Pap smear when you are having your periods.

Some FAQs on Pap smear and pregnancy

Is it a safe option to undergo a Pap smear at the time of pregnancy?

It is a safer option as there is no relation between positive HPV test obstetric complications and Pap smear. It is suggested to perform Pap smear at the time of pregnancy. It is generally conducted early at the time of pregnancy so in case there is some abnormality, the right kind of treatment can be done.

The changes in your hormone are somewhat related to pregnancy which can affect test and unusual results. It might be of great benefit to perform HPV test as a suitable option to Pap smear.

If you have to conduct a Pap smear and already conceived, then you may get one for almost 24 weeks during the pregnancy period. Once the sixth month arrives and till 12 weeks after the birth, it is advised not to undergo a Pap smear. For the last three months of pregnancy, a Pap test seems to be uncomfortable and you can get unauthentic results due to the presence of inflammatory cells after the birth.

What happens at the time of a Pap smear?

While conducting a Pap test, you need to lie back at the examination table having knees up. You should place the feet in stirrups that are located at each side of your table. The doctor will be placing a plastic or a metal speculum in the vagina for holding it open. After this, he uses a swab to scrape off mucus and some cells from the cervix.

Most women will not suffer from any kind of pain during the test though you might feel slight pressure or pinching.

The doctor will also send the samples at the laboratory for further assessment through the microscope. He will ask for a human papillomavirus or HPV test for women who are 21 years and more and have had unusual results for Pap smear.

Pap smear results

The Pap smear test is conducted as a screening test that will examine the requirement for further examination. According to a study, the routine Pap smear screening has already detected almost 92 percent of cases related to cervical cancer.

But there are situations of false-positive and false-negative results too in the study.

The results for private smear test in London are generally normal which means you need to follow the advice of the doctor for more tests. The results are also referred to as a “negative” test which denotes you have tested negative for certain abnormalities.

Unsatisfactory results

Sometimes, the test results for Pap smear may be unsatisfactory. This can mean various things such as: 

  • insufficient cervical cells had been collected for an accurate test
  • cells could not be assessed due to mucus or blood
  • an error in managing the test

If the results had been disappointing, the doctor will ask repeating the tests or return for retesting.

Abnormal results 

Getting the results that your Pap smear is unusual does not mean you are having cervical cancer. Rather it indicates some cells had been quite different from other cells. The unusual test results belong to two categories: 

  • High-grade change denotes you already have had an HPV infection for a long time. They might be cancerous or precancerous.
  • Low-grade changes in the cervical cells mean you are having an HPV.

Cervical cancer

When there are some changes in the cells structure of your cervix, they are believed to be precancerous. The precancers can be removed at the doctor’s office with a laser beam, electric current or liquid nitrogen.

Such precancers start growing rapidly or in huge numbers, and lead to cancerous tumors. If they are not treated on time, then the cancer might spread to other body parts.

Almost all cervical cancer cases occur due to different kinds of HPV that can spread through anal, oral or vaginal sex.

HPV infection is quite common.

There are chances of getting an HPV at some point in case you had one sex partner. You can get infected when you have one sex partner only and the infection may last for several years without you being aware about it.

Though there is no cure available for the infections with various kinds of HPV that may lead to cervical cancer, they usually go away within one to two years.

Symptoms

Many women do not have any symptoms of cervical cancer till it progresses to an advanced stage. Common symptoms are the following: 

  • vaginal bleeding when you are not having your periods
  • abnormal vaginal discharge that has foul odor at times
  • back or pelvic pain
  • painful intercourse
  • heavy periods
  • pain at the time of urination

Risk factors for cervical cancer

Certain factors might be the reason for greater risk of having cervical cancer. Some of these are the following: 

  • compromised immune system
  • HIV
  • smoking
  • having too many sex partners
  • become sexually active during early age
  • family members who had already been diagnosed with cervical cancer
  • your mother took synthetic estrogen diethylstilbestrol (DES) when pregnant
  • diagnosed earlier with precancer or cancer of your cervix

Thus, apart from the best private smear test in London, there are other tests too that women need to perform for maintaining their health condition.

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