When You Should Start Having Pap Smears
By Eric Bentolila MD, PA
May 16, 2019
Category: OBGYN
Tags: Pap Smears  

Do you need a pap test? A pap test, also called pap smear, is a test done during an office visit that can help find early signs of cervical pap smearscancer. A pap smear can find changes in the cells of the cervix. These changes are usually treated with simple office procedures. Because of the pap test, many fewer women now die from cervical cancer every year. Dr. Eric Bentolila and Dr. Jacqueline Saitta are some of the top OBGYNs in Bayonne and Ridgewood, NJ. They offer a complete range of women's health services to his patients. Read on to find out when you should start having pap tests.

When you should have a pap test

Pap smears look for abnormal cells in the cervix, which can lead to cancer. These cells don’t often show up in younger women, so there’s no need to get a pap smear when you’re under 21, unless you've been sexually active for three years or more. It's recommended that women start getting pap smears at age 21. Once you turn 21, you should have a pap smear every three years. Your doctor might tell you to have pap smears more often depending on your personal health and history.

What happens during a Pap smear

When you have a Pap smear, you’ll be asked to lie back on a table with your knees up. You’ll place your feet in stirrups located on each side of the table. Your healthcare will place a plastic or metal speculum in your vagina to hold it open. Your doctor will then use a swab to scrape off some of the cells and mucus on your cervix. Your doctor will send your samples to a laboratory for evaluation under a microscope.

How to prepare for a pap test

To ensure that your pap smear is most effective, avoid douching, intercourse, and using any vaginal medicines or spermicidal foams, powders, jellies, or creams for two days before having the test done. Try not to schedule a pap test during your menstrual period. Don’t have a Pap smear if you're being treated for a vaginal or cervical infection. Wait at least two weeks after treatment has ended before having a pap smear. Empty your bladder before the pap smear.

What your pap test result means

Your OBGYN will receive the results of your pap test in a few days. A negative result is a good thing. That means your OBGYN didn’t find any strange-looking cells on your cervix. If your pap test results come back positive, it doesn't mean you have cancer. You could have inflammation. Or, you might have minor cell changes. These usually clear up on their own, so your OBGYN may take a “wait and see” approach. If the abnormal cells haven’t cleared up in a few months, your doctor may order more tests.

Your health matters! You should make your health a priority. Call Dr. Eric Bentolila or Dr. Jacqueline Saitta at (201) 447-1700 right now to schedule an appointment for a pap smear in Ridgewood, NJ, and (201) 447-0467 for our office in Bayonne, NJ. We want you to live the best life possible. You will experience exemplary service and state-of-the-art care in our office.

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