Although it is one of the most common medical prodecures if you're a woman, you may be wondering what is a pap smear? Whether you are a male or a female, this can be a pretty mysterious procedure. Maybe you've heard about it by someone else or heard it mentioned in a movie. You may just want to know what the heck is going on. Here is some information that answers the question, "What is a pap smear?"
What it's for? A pap smear is a procedure that takes some cells from the cervix in order to have a viable sample to test for cervical cancer. Not only is it good to look for existing cancer or cancerous cells, these sample cells can tell a doctor if the patient has conditions that can later become cancer. While cervical cancer is a serious condition that can be fatal, the pap smear allows the doctor to be able to treat any conditions he finds, including cervical cancer.
When is it done? Typically, a pap smear is a procedure that is done when a woman is 21 years of age. The age can vary if there are reasons to believe a test should be done sooner. Under normal conditions, the pap smear is done every two years if the results are normal each time. If precancerous cells are found, the test should be done on a regular basis until the patient has a normal result. Some women can go every three years as long as they are 30 or older and have had normal test results at least three times in a row.
What is done? The patient lies on a table while the doctor uses a speculum to widen the vaginal canal. A brush and spatula is used to collect the cells that will be tested by a lab. These cells are put into a solution to keep the cells ready for testing.
Now you don't have to wonder what a pap smear is anymore! Just know that it is a simple procedure done in a doctor's office that can help save women's lives.