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How Often Do You Need a Pap Smear?
For women, getting a pap smear should be a critical part of monitoring wellness and health. There are many important aspects of your well-being. A good diet and regular exercise can help reduce the risk of illnesses and disease. Checking for health conditions is also vital, especially as you age. A pap smear screens for cervical cancer, which can prepare you to treat and manage the disease if you have it. If the test is negative, the screening can give you the peace of mind you need.
An overview of the screening
A woman’s primary care physician or OBGYN will administer the test. This can take place during a routine wellness checkup or any other appointment at the woman’s request or doctor’s suggestion. The doctor will swab the cervix, taking a sample of cells. Lab personnel will process the test and the doctor will analyze the results. The woman should learn the findings within a few days or a week.
Who is at risk for cervical cancer?
Women who are HIV-positive have a greater chance of getting this disease. Also, women who have had chemotherapy for cancer treatment may have a weakened immune system. This is also another risk factor. The patient should consult the OBGYN with any concerns or questions about whether they are prone to the condition. The doctor will be happy to answer these questions and will provide any additional information the patient would like to know.
When to get a pap smear
Doctors recommend that women get this screening every three years, starting at age 21. Those who are more at risk should get one more frequently. Starting at age 30, if the woman has not had a positive result for cervical cancer, the doctor may allow the test to occur every five years. Once the patient reaches age 65 and has not had an abnormal test, it will no longer be necessary to have one.
Before and during the screening
Women who are getting a pap smear for the first time may feel scared or nervous about the procedure. It is important to stay calm during the process. Women may find it helpful to take deep breaths and relax as much as possible during the screening. Women should not have sex the day before or the day of the test. Patients should also inform the doctor whether they are menstruating at the time of the screening. In this case, the doctor may reschedule the test so that it can yield more accurate results.
Do not neglect it
Though this screening can be uncomfortable and unpleasant, it is critical for your health. It is effective at detecting cervical cancer. You do not want to put off this test only to find out later that you have cancer. It is much better to go through with it now and know what you face. Your OBGYN will be as gentle and discreet as possible. Call the doctor’s office today so you can make an appointment for your next screening.
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