Cervical cancer is an absolute menace for many women across the world. Just like any other form of cancer, the disease eats you up from the inside, causing your health to deteriorate. Thankfully, medicine has a way of helping you detect the disease in good time. Papanicolaou tests, popularly referred to pap smears or Pap tests, are a screening procedure used in the detection of cervical cancer cells. These tests are considered so important that there is even a national cervical screening program in place to help detect cervical cancer in women. The following discussion looks at some of the compelling questions you might have regarding Pap smear:
What Does the Test Involve?
In brief, Pap smear is a simple but effective screening procedure. All the doctor has to do is scrape a few cells from your cervix and evaluate them to see if there is abnormal growth. The procedure causes slight discomfort but the feeling is short-lived.
What is the Relationship Cervical Cancer and Sexual Activity?
There is a close relationship between cervical cancer and sexual activity. One of the common causes of cervical cancer is HPV virus, which can be transmitted during intercourse. Sexual activity, therefore, elevates the risk of contracting the virus. The rule of thumb for all women is that they should prioritise Pap tests the moment they become sexually active. Ideally, taking one every year is a good insurance policy against late detection of cervical cancer.
What Conditions May Necessitate Many Pap Smear Sessions?
Certainly, human bodies are wired differently. The risk of developing cervical cancer varies from one woman to another. Those with conditions such as HIV and other diseases that weaken the immune system require many Pap smear sessions because they are at a higher risk of developing cancerous cells. Other risk factors include regular use of oral contraceptives and herpes.
What Should You Do Prior to the Test?
You need accurate results from your Pap test to gauge how well you are. To achieve this, you must inform your doctor about your menstrual cycle because taking the test at such a time will affect the results. Additionally, you need to refrain from intercourse and spermicidal products and douching as they may alter the condition of the specimen used by the doctor.
What Kind of Results Should You Expect?
Normal Pap tests mean that the doctor did not find any abnormal cells in your cervix. However, atypia and mild results indicate a low level of risk while moderate, carcinoma in situ and severe dysplasia call for an additional examination of the abnormal cells.