Cervical cancer: it’s a term that strikes fear into almost any woman who hears it. But a Pap smear — a quick test performed as part of your regular OB/GYN check-up — can identify the signs of cervical cancer so it can be caught and treated at an early stage. Or, even better, give you the all-clear. The dedicated team of women physicians at Doctors of Women, serving Irvine, California and the greater Orange County area, have spent decades empowering other women to take charge of their health with this simple test. Call or use the online form today to get the answers you need.
A Pap smear is a quick test performed by a gynecologist that can identify cervical cancer and the precancerous changes that may precede it. The most common cause of cervical cancer is the human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is transmitted through sexual intercourse or intimate skin-to-skin contact.
When performing a Pap smear, your physician will insert an instrument called a speculum into your vagina to dilate your cervix — the opening of your uterus. She will then swab the cervix, collecting a sample of cells. These are sent to a lab for analysis.
A Pap smear only takes a few minutes and is generally pain-free. You may feel a pinching sensation or pressure when the speculum is inserted and the cells are swabbed. You will usually get your results within a few days to weeks.
While a negative Pap smear means that you do not have cervical cancer, a positive Pap smear does not necessarily mean that you have cancer. A positive Pap smear may be inconclusive and often requires further testing.
A Pap smear may come back positive if you have:
The OB/GYN specialists at Doctors of Women follow the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommended screening guidelines for Pap smears:
Practicing safe sex may reduce your chances of becoming infected with HPV. Regular Pap smears will help you stay on top of an infection if one does occur. For women age 9-26, an HPV vaccine is also available.
If you are ready to have a Pap smear or to talk to a supportive physician about HPV infection, vaccines, or cervical cancer, contact Doctors of Women. You can call or use the easy online form.