PAP SMEAR What is a Pap test and what to expect when you make an appointment for a Pap smear:


What is a Pap test and what to expect when you make an
appointment for a Pap smear:

The Pap test, or Pap smear, is named after George N.
Papanicolaou, an American medical scientist who developed
the test.

Laboratory examination of cells obtained from the cervix can
identify both cancerous and precancerous lesions, allowing timely
intervention and treatment.  Sometimes signs of infections of the
vagina and cervix are noted at the time of the pap smear.  The
pap is only one part of a woman's annual health care maintenance
exam.  The women's health care provider takes a sample of cells
from your cervix, smears them onto a slide, and sends the slide
to a laboratory to be examined under a microscope.

If the Pap test shows anything abnormal, your health care
provider will contact you to discuss the best way to correct the
problem.  If your pap results are normal, you will not be
contacted by the Student Health Services, but will be expected to
return for your annual exam.

If you're sexually active, the health care provider may use
another cotton swab to obtain a small sample to run a series of
tests to insure you have not contracted a sexually transmitted
disease (STD), such as chlamydia, herpes, genital warts or
gonorrhea.  Whether or not this is done will be discussed with
you at the time of the exam.  They will not routinely be done.

If you've told your health care provider about a vaginal
discharge, he or she may use a third swab to obtain a sample of
your vaginal secretions for laboratory testing.

When the health care provider has finished the various tests, he
or she will gently take out the speculum.  Finally, he or she
will probably insert two fingers, gloved and well-lubricated with
surgical jelly, into your vagina.  Then, with the other hand, he
or she will gently apply pressure to your stomach region to
examine your cervix, uterus (womb), fallopian tubes and ovaries.

During the time you're lying on the table, the health care
provider will usually examine your breasts.  The health care
provider will uncover your breasts and feel each breast
separately for lumps or any other abnormalities.  Let the health
care provider know if your breasts are sore in any way.

When the health care provider has completed the exam, he or she
will ask you to get dressed and will leave the room so you can do
so.  The health care provider will probably want to talk with you
further to discuss 1) the results of your examination, 2) when he
or she expects any test results, 3) your next appointment, and 4)
if you are interested in a method of birth control.  Anything you
may have forgotten to ask before, you should ask now.  If you
remember something later, your health care provider is available
by phone to answer your questions.

Women should not be menstruating at the time of the pap smear. 
It is recommended that women not have had intercourse, douched,
or used any vaginal suppositories or products for 2 or 3 days
prior to the pap smear.  If an infection is noted at the time of
the exam (yeast, cervicitis), the pap test itself will have to be
done after the infection is cleared.

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