A Pap smear, also called a Pap (Papanicolaou) test, is a screening procedure used to test for cervical cancer. It may also detect precancerous cervical cells.
Pap smears are not painful for most people. You may feel a little pinch or a bit of pressure, which may be uncomfortable. The results will either be negative (normal) or positive (abnormal).
A negative, or normal, result is a good thing. That means your doctor didn’t find any precancerous or cancerous cells on your cervix. You won’t need another Pap smear until you’re due for your next scheduled one.
There are several reasons you could have a positive, or abnormal, Pap smear.
Pap smears should be done on a regular basis for people with cervixes ages 21-65, typically every 3 years.
If you have certain health concerns, your doctor may recommend that you have a Pap smear procedure more often.
Some of these health concerns include:
Always talk to your doctor if you have questions or concerns.
Do not schedule a Pap smear during your period. Heavy bleeding can affect the accuracy of the test.
If your test is scheduled during your period, ask your doctor if you can reschedule it.
For the most accurate Pap smear results, doctors recommend taking the following steps, starting 48 hours before your test:
Pap smears are available every day at Patient First from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. on a walk-in basis. Unless otherwise recommended, you should get a Pap smear once every three years if you have a cervix and are between the ages of 21 and 65, to screen for cervical cancer. Your doctor will notify you of your Pap test results (generally within a week) once received from the lab.
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