why do you get a pap smear
What Is a Pap Smear? A Pap smear (or Pap test) is a medical test that helps doctors figure out if there are any problems with a girl's cervix (the lower part of the uterus that opens into the vagina). The importance of the Pap smear is in the early detection, before there are any symptoms. Finding abnormal cells early can lead to treatment that prevents the development of cancer, and detecting cancer cells early enough can lead to greater chance of a cure. Who Should Get a Pap Smear? Teen girls don't need to get Pap smears unless their doctors think something's wrong. Once a girl turns 21, she should start getting regular Pap smears as a way to monitor her health. Women in their 20s with normal Pap smear results should have the test every 3 years. Some women might need to get tested more often, though. So ask your doctor. The Pap smear shouldn't hurt, but it might be uncomfortable. The good news is, it's over quickly. What Happens? uses a small brush to wipe a sample of mucus from the cervix. The sample is sent to a lab, where technicians check it for cells that aren't normal. To do this, the doctor or NP will use a speculum to gently widen the vagina. A speculum is a thin piece of plastic or metal with a hinged piece on one end that allows it to open and close. If the speculum is metal, the doctor or nurse will warm it to make it more comfortable.
The doctor or nurse will let you know when he or she is about to put the speculum in your vagina. Once the speculum is in place, the doctor or nurse will gently open it up. Putting in and opening the speculum shouldn't hurt. But some women say that it can cause a bit of pressure and discomfort. Because the vagina is surrounded by muscles that can contract or relax, the exam can be more comfortable if you relax the muscles in that area. Try doing some breathing exercises or focusing on relaxing the vaginal muscles. Sometimes humming your favorite song or chatting with the doctor or nurse can distract you and help you feel more relaxed. After the speculum is in place, the doctor will shine a light inside the vagina to see the cervix. The doctor will gently touch the cervix with a small brush to pick up cells from that area. Some girls say it feels like a pinch. After the doctor or nurse has collected the sample and removed the speculum, you'll be left alone to get dressed. Some women say that they bleed a tiny bit from the Pap smear after the exam, so they like to put a pantiliner in their underwear as they get dressed. This bleeding is no big deal it's nothing like a period and it won't last.
You can have a Pap smear at your GP s surgery, Aboriginal Medical Service, Women s Health Centre or Community Health Clinic.
Your Pap smear can be taken by your GP, nurse, midwife or Aboriginal Health Worker. It is important you feel comfortable with the health professional taking your Pap smear and you can request a different person if you want. Some women feel more comfortable with a woman and request a woman for their appointment, even if their usual health professional is a man. When you have chosen a health professional you feel comfortable with, call to make an appointment. Make sure you tell the receptionist the appointment is for a Pap smear as you may need to book a longer appointment. Find out more about. When is the best time to have a Pap smear? The best time to have a Pap smear is mid-way between your periods, but can be done anytime except during your period. If you no longer have periods, any time is suitable. If you have symptoms such as unusual bleeding, discharge or pain, see your health professional as soon as possible, even if your last Pap smear was less than 2 years ago and was normal. How is a Pap smear taken? When you arrive for your Pap smear your health professional will ask you some routine health questions. This is a good time for you to ask any questions about the Pap smear or your general health. If you are feeling worried or anxious let your health professional know.
You will be asked to undress in private from the waist down, given a sheet to cover yourself and asked to lie on an examination table. The health professional will use a speculum to visualise your cervix (the opening of the womb) by gently inserting the speculum into your vagina. The speculum can be warmed under warm water or lubrication used to make the procedure more comfortable for you. Once the speculum is inserted and the cervix visualised, cells are collected from the cervix with a small brush and placed (smeared) onto a glass slide. This only takes a few seconds and once this is done, the speculum is removed and the Pap smear is complete. A Pap smear is a quick, simple and safe procedure. Having a Pap smear may be uncomfortable but should not hurt or be painful. If you feel uncomfortable during the examination or want the health professional to stop, let the health professional know. What happens next? The cervical cells that were collected and placed on the glass slide are sent to a laboratory. The cells are examined under a microscope to see if they are normal or abnormal. Approximatley 90 per cent of Pap smears are normal. It usually takes 1 to 2 weeks for your health professional to receive your results from the laboratory. It s important to contact your provider for your.
What if I am feeling anxious about my Pap smear? Women can often feel anxious or nervous about having a Pap smear, especially if it is their first time. You may find it helpful to first meet with your health professional to discuss any concerns you may have about the procedure or the results you might get. You can bring a friend, family member or partner with you to your appointment as a support person. How much does a Pap smear cost? Medicare will cover the majority of the cost of a Pap smear. Some health providers bulk bill so there is no cost to you. Others charge a fee for the laboratory tests or for their time. The cost of having a Pap smear differs between providers. When you are booking your appointment ask if there is a fee and what the fee will be for having a Pap smear. This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.
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