Getting a pap smear is not one of the more pleasant reasons to visit your gynecologist. However, it is a necessity, since it can detect early signs of cervical cancer. If you are considering doing a pap smear for the first time, then it is understandable that you may be nervous about it and may have some questions. Here are a few questions and answers you are sure to find useful.
How Often Should I Get A Pap Smear?
You can have a pap smear done every year, if it makes you feel more comfortable about your cervical health. However, if you are in your twenties you only need to do one every three years and if you are over thirty you should do one every five years. Whenever you do a pap smear, you should also get tested for the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). This is because the majority of cervical cancers are caused by HPV. Women over sixty five do not need pap smears, if all of their previous results have shown no signs of cancer.
Can I Do A Pap Smear While On My Period?
It is not recommended that you do a pap smear while you are menstruating. Blood can easily skew the results of the test and trigger false positives. Some doctors will do a pap smear when you are menstruating lightly, while others will refuse to do so. However, to be on the safe side and to avoid getting a bad result, wait until your period has ended.
Should I Talk About Being Uncomfortable?
If there is any reason you feel uncomfortable you should speak up. It is not uncommon for panic attacks to arise, especially if it is your first pap smear or if you have been a victim of sexual assault. Most doctors are willing to go to extra lengths to make you more comfortable, but you must let them know about your fears.
What Can Be Done If I Have A Positive Result?
A positive result may be traumatic when it is first delivered. However, if you get one, it is highly likely that you will be able to recover and become healthy again. Cervical cancer is one of the most treatable cancers once it is detected in its early stages.
Getting a pap smear can be nerve wracking. However, the benefits are enormous and it should not be avoided as the information you receive will give you peace of mind and may very well save your life. Talk to your OB/GYN for more information about GYN exams.