We perform Pap smears for our patients as part of their regular well woman care. Pap smears are screening tests that are used to detect cervical cancer, precancerous cells, and the presence of HPV or other infections. Pap smears are best performed when you are not having your period.
Pap smears begin at age 21. In low risk women a Pap smear may not be done at every annual visit. Today many Pap smears are done in conjunction with HPV testing.
A Pap smear brush is used to gather cells from the outer opening of the cervix. The cells are viewed under a microscope to look for abnormalities.
Most women feel no pain from a Pap smear, although mild discomfort is possible. Many women experience mild cramping or spotting afterward.
What happens when your Pap smear results are abnormal?
If your Pap smear results are abnormal, we may schedule a repeat Pap smear to double-check the results or conduct office testing. Sometimes we use an instrument called a colposcope that allows a closer examination of the cervix for any abnormalities. A colposcope is a microscope that magnifies the tissues in the cervix. If your cervical tissue appears abnormal, we may take a small tissue sample. This may cause you to feel a slight pinch or cramp. The biopsy is sent to a lab for analysis.
Sometimes, women may feel a little lightheaded after a Pap smear or a colposcopy. If a biopsy is performed there may be minor bleeding from the biopsy site. Infection is rare but possible. You should call our office immediately if you experience heavy bleeding, pelvic pain or a fever after the procedure.