Getting regular Pap smears has reduced cervical cancer rates and deaths in women by 80%. Schubert Atiga, MD, FACOG and his experienced team at Lifetime Women’s Healthcare protect women in the San Diego area by offering preventive gynecological health care services like Pap smears. To reduce your risks of cervical cancer, call Lifetime Women’s Healthcare in Chula Vista, California or schedule a Pap smear online today.
Pap Smear Q & A
What is a Pap smear?
A Pap smear or Pap test is a screening done to detect cervical cancer or abnormal cells on the cervix.
Your cervix is at the opening of your uterus. During a Pap smear, cells are gently scraped from your cervix and evaluated for abnormalities. These results can be used to not only diagnose when cervical cancer is present but detect potential issues before they become serious.
Who needs a Pap smear?
Dr. Atiga recommends regular Pap smears for women beginning at age 21, or earlier if you’re already sexually active or at an increased risk of developing cervical infections or cancers.
Most women require Pap smears every three years. Depending on your age and test history, Dr. Atiga might recommend Pap smears more or less often. For example, women over 65 who have a history of normal Pap smears might be able to stop getting tested entirely.
What can I expect during a Pap smear?
Dr. Atiga performs Pap smears with a pelvic exam. During your procedure, you lie on your back with your feet supported in stirrups. Dr. Atiga inserts a speculum into your vagina to open your vaginal walls to access your cervix.
To gather your cervical cells, Dr. Atiga scrapes your cervix gently. You might experience mild discomfort during this process, but it’s over quickly and isn’t painful. Following your Pap smear, you might have some cramping or light vaginal bleeding, but this fades in a short period.
What do the results of my Pap smear mean?
After analyzing your cervical cells, Dr. Atiga shares your results, which are either normal or abnormal. If your Pap smear results are normal or negative, no abnormal cells were found, and you’re good to go until your next regular Pap smear.
While an abnormal Pap smear doesn’t mean you have cancer, it does mean abnormal cells were present. Abnormal cervical cells range from mild to severe, and include:
- Severe dysplasia
- Carcinoma in situ
Dr. Atiga makes recommendations on your next steps based on the abnormal cells present in your test. He might increase the frequency of your Pap tests or recommend a colposcopy, which is an exam that enables Dr. Atiga to analyze your vaginal and cervical tissue under magnification.
Call Lifetime Women’s Healthcare or schedule a Pap smear online today to learn more.