What is a Pap smear?
A Pap smear is a crucial test that can help save your life. As vital as it is, it is also a very simple test. A Pap smear is a test that checks for cervical cancer, human papillomavirus (HPV), and sexually transmitted infections (STI). Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that can affect a woman’s cervix. Which is a part of the reproductive system. Getting a Pap smear helps healthcare providers find any problems early on, so they can be treated before they get worse.
Why should you get a Pap smear?
- Early deduction: The key to beating any cancer is catching it early. A Pap smear can find abnormal cells in the cervix before they turn into cancer. If these cells are found early you can get treatment to stop the cancer from developing.
- Saving Lives: Cervical cancer is a tricky disease because it does not always show symptoms in the beginning. That is why it is so important to get regular Pap smears. They can save lives by finding cancer before it spreads.
- Quick and easy: The test itself is very simple. It is done at your provider’s office. The provider will gently scrape a few cells from your cervix, and that is it. It may feel a little uncomfortable, but it is a quick process.
- Preventing spread: If you do have abnormal cells that might turn into cancer, your provider can help you stop it from happening. Preventing the cancer from developing. Leading to bigger health problems down the road.
Who should have a Pap smear and how Often?
According to the Henry Mayo Clinic, it is recommended that women start getting Pap smears at the age of 21. Between the ages of 21 to 65 it is recommended you get tested every three years. However if you have any of these risk factors below it is suggested that you have more-frequent Pap smears, no matter what your age is.
- A diagnosis of cervical cancer
- A previous Pap smear showed precancerous cells
- Exposure to diethylstilbestrol before birth. This is a synthetic form of the female hormone estrogen. It was prescribed to pregnant women between 1940 to 1971 to prevent miscarriages, according to the National Cancer Institute.
- Weakened immune system
- History of smoking
To summarize, getting a Pap smear is a smart and way to take control of your health. It is like having a secret weapon against cervical cancer. By getting your Pap smear done at the right age and sticking to the schedule, you are not only looking out for your well-being. As well as ensuring a healthier and brighter future. Don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor and empower yourself with the knowledge that you are doing everything you can to stay healthy and strong.
Here at Clinicas del Camino Real, Inc. we have many providers ready to sit down and discuss and create your own plan of care. That best suits your needs! Visit our OB/GYN page to get scheduled today for your next Pap smear and take your health into your own hands!