Pap smear is a screening test for cervical cancer. It tests for the presence of pre-cancerous or cancerous cells on your cervix.
It is recommended that women get regular pap smears every two to three years starting at the age of 20, following 2 consecutive years of normal pap smears 1 year apart.
Some women may be at increased risk for cancer or infection and need more frequent tests, e.g. if they are:
- having a weakened immune system from chemotherapy or organ transplant
How is it done?
During the procedure, you’ll lie on your back on an examination table with your legs spread.
Your doctor will insert a device called a speculum into your vagina to keep the vaginal walls open and provides access to the cervix.
Your doctor will scrape a small sample of cells from your cervix. There are a few ways your doctor can take this sample:
- Spatula only.
- Spatula and a brush.
- Cytobrush, which is a combination spatula and brush.
Most women feel a slight push and irritation during the brief scraping.
The sample of cells from your cervix will be preserved and sent to a lab to be tested for the presence of abnormal cells.
After the test, you might feel mild discomfort from the scraping or a bit of cramping. You could also experience very light vaginal bleeding immediately following the test. Tell your doctor if discomfort or bleeding continues after the day of the test.