What is a Pap Smear?Pap smear is a specific part of a gynecological exam or pelvic exam where evaluation for cervical cancer is done.
During a Pap Smear, your provider take a sample of the cells of the cervix.
These cells are sent it to the lab for examination under the microscope to check for abnormal changes.
It is a screening test for cervical cancer or precancerous change of the cervix.
During this part of the speculum exam, your provider can also take discharges from your cervix or vagina to look for infection(s) in your genital tract.
Pap Smear MythsMyth:
I was in the ER last night and they gave me a Pap Smear.
I went to the ER 4 times last year and they did 4 Pap Smears on me.
ER providers rarely do a pap smear. In fact it is safer that ER providers do not perform pap smears.
Your ER provider did the speculum exam to check for infections of the vagina and/or the cervix
Why Get Regular Pap SmearsThere are many strains of HPV (Human Papilloma Virus). HPV is transmitted through sexual intercourse. These viruses can change normal cervical cells into cells that can become cancerous.
Here are some reasons to get regular Pap smears:• Younger then 30 years old.
• Multiple sexual partners.
• Recent abnormal pap smears.
• HIV positive.
• Taking drugs that decrease your immune system (cancer treatment, steroid).
When and How Often Should I Have a Pap Smear?It is recommended that women less 30 years of age have a Pap Smear done once a year
If you can have a Pap Smear every 3 years if you meet all these criteria: •Older than 30 years •In a sexual relationship that is stable and monogamous •Your Pap Smears, over the past 3 years were normal •Even if you meet all of these criteria and decide to get a Pap Smear every 3 years, it is recommended that you still make an appointment to see your health care provider once a year for other health care maintenance issues (i.e. cholesterol / diabetes screening, breast exam, pelvic exam, immunizations, etc.)
When Can I Stop Getting Pap Smears?Women older than 70, in a stable sexual relationship, and have 3 consecutive normal Pap Smear, may elect to stop getting yearly pap smear. You still need yearly physical and Pelvic exam.
Female Reproductive Organs
Well Woman Exam
- Well Woman exam is an evaluation of your health as a woman.
- It is done every year.
- There are three parts to a Well Woman appointment: 1. History
- You may schedule a Well Woman's Exam by contacting the clinic at (915) 742-CARE (2273) Selecting Option 3 for Clinical Services, then Option 6 for Specialty Care, then Option 3 for Women's Health Services
2. Examination, Labs
3. Discussion of health care / maintenance issues
Your Preparation for your Well Woman's Appointment
- If you have any chronic medical problems, make sure you list all the medications that you are taking—those that are prescribed as well as bought over-the-counter.
- Write down any concerns that you have regarding your female health to discuss it with your provider.
- Nothing in the vagina (sexual intercourse or douching) for 48 hours before your Well Woman's appointment.
Day of your Well Woman's Appointment
- Accurately fill out the questionnaire about your overall health and your female health.
- "What if I’m having my period!" You can still keep this
appointment. The new Pap smear technology allow your provider to perform a Pap smear even if you are menstruating. However, if the bleeding is heavy, please call to reschedule your appointment.
Before the Physical Exam
- You and your provider can discuss issues / concerns that you have regarding your women’s health status.
- Before the exam, you and your provider can discuss if you wish to get screening tests for sexually transmitted infection. (gonorrhea, Chlamydia, Trichomonas, Syphillis, HIV, Hepatitis)
The Physical Exam
- Bladder should be relatively empty
- Heart, lungs, abdomen examination
- Breast exam
- Pelvic exam - Pap smear and screening for cervix / vaginal infections
Tests are done depending on your age, health status, pelvic exam result and family history.
- Your provider may order Mammogram, testing for cholesterol level, thyroid, anemia, and / or diabetes.
- These tests are done appropriately according to national screening guidelines.
- If there are any gynecologic or pre-conceptual (planning for pregnancy) issues, your CTMC provider will place a consult for you to speak to an OB/GYN provider at WBAMC.
This is an examination of the female organs in the pelvis. It has two parts—the speculum exam and the bimanual exam.
- It is done by looking into the vagina.
- Cells can be collected from the cervix (Pap Smear).
- Discharges from the cervix and / or the vagina can be collected to look for infection of the cervix and / or vagina.
The Healthcare Provider feels for abnormalities of your female organs.
Heavy or Painful Periods
When should my daughter see a gynecologist?
- Healthy adolescents should see start seeing a gynecologist or a pediatrician to discuss safer sexual practices, birth control, sexually transmitted infections, and general female health between the age of 14–16.
- Women less than 21 years old, should have a Pap smear within 3 years of having sex. Yes, even if she had sex once.
- If a women starts to be sexually active, she should be seen by a health care provider at least once a year to discuss and screen for sexually transmitted infections.