As a young woman, you most likely are already familiar with the term “pap smear”. However, do you know what this test is and why it is important? And do you know when you should have the test for the first time? Let’s answer your questions…
What is a Pap Smear?
During a pap smear, the front of the cervix is gently scraped with a specially designed brush and spatula. The cells that are retrieved are then placed in a test cup, like the type of cup you’d use when giving a urine sample. The stored sample is sent to a lab where the cells will be examined through various methods.
Why is a Pap Smear Important?
A pap smear is not only important when looking for a current problem, it could be a bacterial infection or even cervical cancer, although the chances of cancer are rare. However, another benefit of a pap smear is that the results that are found in previous tests can be compared to current test results to look for changes in the cervix.
When Should You Have Your First Pap Smear?
It is recommended that the first pap smear be done at age 21. After that, it is important to have another one every 3 to 5 years. If there are risk factors involved, your doctor may recommend one earlier than at 21 years or may request a follow-up test every 1 to 2 years.
If you are approaching 21 years old and need to schedule your first pap smear, call Clinica Las Americas for an appointment. If you’re not 21 but you have a family history, speak to one of our providers about having a pap smear early. Clinica Las Americas can keep you on a straight path to good health with preventative procedures like a pap smear.