Pap Smears: Procedure and Results
A Pap smear or Pap test is a test that is done in order to screen for cervical cancer. Pap tests are typically done at the same time as pelvic exams and are an important step in preventing cervical cancer.
Who should get a Pap smear?
Every woman between the ages of 21 and 65 should receive Pap tests every three years, even if not sexually active. Women over 65 that have had three normal Pap tests in a row do not need to continue getting them. Women who do not have a cervix (typically due to a hysterectomy) and do not have a history of cervical cancer or abnormal Pap results do not need Pap tests.
What does a Pap smear involve?
Pap tests are often done during pelvic exams given by your gynecologist or other qualified medical professional. Typically, you will change into a medical gown, place a paper blanket over your lap, and lie down on an exam table with your feet placed in stirrups.
Your physician will then place an instrument called a speculum into your vagina and open it. This allows the physician to see your cervix and use a swab to take a few cells from the surface. The cells are then sent to a lab for testing. Pap tests might feel uncomfortable but should not be painful, and they can cause spotting afterwards.
Pap test results usually take one to three weeks to come back. If your test results come back abnormal, your physician will contact you for further testing. Abnormal Pap smear results do not always indicate cancer, but it is important to follow up with your physician in order to rule it out.
Where Can I Get a Pap Smear?
If you need a Pap smear and don’t have time to wait for an appointment with your gynecologist, come to FastMed. Each of our urgent care locations offers gynecological exams and sexual health care. One of our caring medical professionals can perform a Pap test, and our on-site labs enable us to have your results fast.