A Pap smear, also known as a Pap test, is a routine part of women’s preventive health care. The important screening exam helps detect cancerous or precancerous cells in your cervix, and having it at the recommended times is one of the best things you can do to prevent cervical cancer. From her practice in Dumfries, Virginia, Dr. Zerline Chambers-Kersey provides a full range of preventive gynecological screenings, including Pap smear tests, to patients in the Prince William County area. If you’re due for a Pap smear, call or book your appointment online today.
- Although uncomfortable, Dr Chambers Kersey gently places a speculum into the vagina to visualize the cervix,
- Using a brush, she gently samples the cervical canal followed by a sampling of the outer cervical region with a spatula,
- The two are then dispersed into a liquid for cytology and sent to the lab for processing
Qualifying Conditions to forego pap
- NOT sexually active
- In a long-term, monogamous relationship
- No history of abnormal pap
Pap Smear Q & A
What is a Pap smear?
Dr. Chambers-Kersey uses a Pap test to check your cervix, located where the lower part of your uterus opens into your vagina, for abnormal cells.
Cellular changes in your cervix can be an early indication of cervical cancer, which is why the Pap test is an essential tool in cervical cancer prevention. Finding abnormal cells before they turn cancerous almost always leads to successful early treatment.
How often should I have a Pap test?
A Pap test is typically done during a routine pelvic exam, and is generally recommended every three years starting around age 21.
Pap tests are important for women of all ages, including those who have had hysterectomies.
If you have certain risk factors for cervical cancer, she likely will advise you to have Pap smears more often. Having more frequent Pap tests is a good idea if you had a previous Pap smear that showed precancerous cells, or if you have a weakened immune system or a history of cancer.
After going over your medical history, Dr. Chambers-Kersey lets you know how often you should plan to have a Pap test based on your cervical cancer risk factors.
How is a Pap test done?
A Pap test is a quick procedure that’s easily performed during a routine pelvic exam. As you lie on the exam table, Dr. Chambers-Kersey uses a speculum to gently open your vagina so that the cervix is visible.
Using a special stick or brush, she lightly scrapes a few cells from the surface and inside of your cervix, which she then places on a slide for testing in a lab. Although a Pap smear can be slightly uncomfortable, it’s relatively short and shouldn’t feel painful.
When should I stop having Pap tests?
Many women are given incorrect guidance after having a hysterectomy or told they have reached an age where Pap tests are no longer necessary. The truth is, Pap test screening is primarily determined by a woman’s sexual activity. Too often, cancer or other health issues are caught when it’s too late.
Any woman who is sexually active should continue to have Pap tests every few years, regardless of age or if they’ve had a hysterectomy.
Women must meet all three qualifying conditions to forego recommended Pap smears. These factors include:
- No sexual activity
- A negative HPV test
- A least 3 consecutive normal Pap smears
Along with Pap tests at indicated intervals, Dr. Chambers-Kersey recommends continued HPV screening along with annual GYN visits.
How important are annual GYN visits?
It is extremely important for women of all ages to continue to come in for GYN visits every year. GYN visits include breast exams, HPV screening, an overall review of your gynecological health, discussion of any changes since your last GYN visit, and a Pap smear when indicated.
Dr. Chambers-Kersey always strives to educate her patients and ensure every woman understands why or why not a service or treatment is needed. She believes every woman needs to be proactive in her health at any stage in life.
If you have any questions regarding your gynecologic health, contact Dr. Chambers-Kersey to schedule a visit today!