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Importance of Pap Smears & What to Expect

Pap smears, or Pap tests, are an essential part of your reproductive healthcare. If you haven’t had one before, it can help ease any anxiety you might be experiencing to learn more about them and what to expect.

Genesis OBGYN is proud to help our patients around Tucson, Phoenix, and Sierra Vista, Arizona, get the preventative healthcare they need. Learn more about Pap smears and what to expect during your appointment below.

Why Are Pap Smears Important?

Pap smears are a preventative test to screen for cervical cancer. A Pap test takes a sample of cells from your cervix and examines them for abnormal cells, which can develop into cancer. If abnormal cells are detected, your provider can keep a closer eye on you and help halt the potential development of cervical cancer.

Pap smears can be performed in your ObGyn’s office as part of a routine wellness appointment.

Who Should Receive a Pap Smear?

Provider discussing the importance of Pap smears

If you have a cervix, you should be receiving a Pap smear. Depending on conversations between you and your provider, you should have a Pap smear every year or every three years. However, you should have an annual well-woman’s visit with your women’s healthcare provider to speak about your reproductive health every year, no matter if you receive a Pap smear or not.

If you are considered high-risk, you may need more frequent screenings. You may be considered high-risk if you meet the following criteria:

  • You have a history of cervical cancer.
  • You are HIV positive.
  • You have a weakened immune system.
  • You were exposed to diethylstilbestrol before birth (a hormone given to pregnant people between 1940 and 1971)

If you’re over 65 or have had a total hysterectomy, which includes the removal of the cervix, you may not need a Pap smear.

Your provider can recommend a screening schedule that’s right for you based on your personal health history.

What Happens During a Pap Smear?

Pap tests

A Pap smear only takes a few minutes, and your provider will be there to support you every step of the way. When you arrive for your Pap smear, you’ll undress and be given a hospital gown for privacy. We’ll do our best to keep you comfortable and let you know what we’re doing before we do it.

The Pap test will include the following steps:

  1. Lie down on the exam table and place your feet in the stirrups like you would for your annual exam.
  2. When you’re ready, your provider will insert a speculum into your vagina. This spreads the walls of your vagina so your provider can access your cervix. We will do our best to minimize any discomfort you may experience.
  3. Using a small brush or spatula, your provider will swab the cervix to remove some cells.
  4. Those cells will be placed in a vile of liquid for later testing. That specimen will be sent to a lab to complete the tests.

After your Pap test is completed, your provider will perform a routine pelvic. If there are any abnormalities from your Pap smear, your provider will go over them with you and any follow-up actions that need to be taken.

Schedule Your Next Pap Smear Today

If it’s time for your next Pap smear, schedule an appointment at one of our Tucson, Phoenix, or Sierra Vista, AZ, locations. The providers at Genesis OBGYN take a patient-first approach to all your healthcare needs. We’ll answer any questions and ensure you feel comfortable every step of the way. Contact us to schedule an appointment today.