Most women know they need a pap smear but they don’t know why. The reason may be more important than you think. A pap smear examines the cells of the cervix, looking for abnormalities that can develop into cancer.
It’s designed to test for human papillomavirus (HPV), the most common sexually transmitted infection.
Depending on the strain of HPV, this infection can lead to genital warts or cervical cancer.
As a result, it’s recommended that women receive a pap smear by a gynecologist in South Florida when they reach age 21.
Detecting cervical cancer at an early stage significantly increases your chance of survival.
If you are 21 and older and you still haven’t received a pap smear, some of the information we’re about to provide may incentivize you to schedule an appointment as soon as possible.
Pap Smears Shouldn’t Hurt
Many procedures are scary because they have the potential to cause great pain. Fortunately, pap smears are not supposed to hurt. When you get it the first time, you may be surprised about how it feels, and you might experience some discomfort.
In general, it feels like a small pinch.
Depending on your pain threshold, you may handle it better than others. If you don’t handle pain well, you can minimize it by taking Ibuprofen one hour before your appointment.
First Pap Smear Should Be at Age 21
In general, it’s recommended that you schedule an appointment with a gynecologist in South Florida to get your first pap smear when you turn 21, but it depends on your risk factors and medical history.
You may be able to wait longer if you are 21 and are not sexually active, but it isn’t advised. If you’re 21, but still a virgin, you’re at low risk of developing cervical cancer, but should still consider getting tested.
If you are sexually active and under age 21, it’s recommended that you get tested.
Although cervical cancer is rare in women under 21, there is a possibility for infection. You should schedule an appointment with your gynecologist in South Florida every three years for a pap smear until you reach age 70.
When you turn 70, you will not need a pap smear if the previous three tests came back normal, as cervical cancer is rare for women over age 69.
Getting a Pap Smear During Your Period
If your next appointment with your gynecologist in South Florida falls on a day that you’re menstruating, your gynecologist may ask you to reschedule.
The test involves extracting a sample of cervical cells, and if there’s some presence of blood, it can cause an inaccurate result. The only time it may be possible to perform the test when you’re menstruating is if you’re spotting or lightly bleeding.
Pap Smears Can Prevent Cancer
It may go without saying, but it deserves emphasis: pap smears are an effective form of cancer prevention. They can detect precancerous cells in the cervix that may change and evolve into cancer.
Once those cells are detected, you can begin treatment to prevent the cells from developing into cancer. If the cells aren’t detected at that stage, getting tested can still save your life. It can detect cancer early before it spreads to other parts of the body.
Other Ways to Reduce Risk of HPV and Cervical Cancer
While a pap smear is crucial because it can spot HPV, there are other ways you can protect yourself.
- Use protection. If you’re sexually active, you should always use condoms, as this reduces your risk of getting HPV.
- Quit smoking. If you smoke, this will increase the risk of developing cervical cancer. The more you smoke, the higher the risk.
- Use vaginal spermicides. Certain ingredients found in spermicidal gels may help prevent HPV infection. However, you shouldn’t use it fewer than three days before your pap smear, as this can skew results.
Contact All Female Healthcare
If you are looking for gynecologists in Pompano Beach, FL to receive a pap smear, contact All Female Health Care. We can also help women who have received an abnormal pap smear by determining the cause and providing you with the right treatment.
Our highly trained medical staff will work to make you feel comfortable during your visit. Call (954) 742-3536 to schedule your appointment.