In a given year, over 13,000 new cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed in the United States. Because the Pap smear continues to be the leading test to detect cervical cancer, the expert women’s health providers at International Medical Clinics (IMC) in Atlanta offer comprehensive Pap testing. You can book your Pap smear online today, or you can call the clinic to schedule your appointment.
Why do I need a Pap smear?
A Pap smear is a routine screening that involves gathering a small sample of cells from your cervix. This screening continues to remain the leading method to detect cancerous cells in your cervix, which if left untreated, could turn into a life-threatening form of cancer.
Your OB/GYN may recommend a routine Pap test if:
- You have a history of abnormal Pap smears
- You’re over the age of 21, but younger than 65
- You had a hysterectomy, but still have your cervix
Pap smears are often included as part of your well-woman exam to ensure you’re in optimal health.
What happens during a Pap test?
Pap smears are quick and painless exams performed right in your doctor’s office at IMC. You’re going to have to undress from the waist down, lie back on the exam table, and place your feet in stirrups on either side of the table.
Once you’re comfortable, your physician inserts a device called a speculum into your vagina. Although you may feel some pressure as the speculum holds open your vaginal walls, you shouldn’t feel any discomfort. Your provider then uses a specialized brush to gently scrape your cervix to gather cells.
If you’re also going through sexually transmitted disease (STD) testing, your doctor may need a second sample of cells. But that’s all that’s involved in a Pap test. You can return to all of your normal activities afterward.
How often do I need a Pap smear?
As long as you’re generally healthy and always have normal Pap tests, your OB/GYN at IMC may recommend getting Pap smears every three years. You can wait up to five years if you combine the Pap test with human papillomavirus (HPV) testing.
In some cases though, your doctor may encourage you to have more frequent Pap smears if you have certain risk factors, including:
- History of smoking
- Weakened immune system
- History of abnormal Pap tests
- Diagnosis of precancerous or cancerous cervical cells
In these cases, your OB/GYN might recommend coming in to IMC once or twice a year to repeat your Pap test.