Getting Your First Pap Smear: 3 Things To Know

Health & Medical Blog

Starting at the age of 21, it's recommended that women get a routine screening known as a pap smear. This test is designed to detect cancerous or precancerous cells in the opening of your uterus called the cervix. It also screens for other abnormalities that may develop into, or increase your chances of getting cervical cancer, such as the human papiloma virus, or HPV, which is a virus that infects the skin cells of your cervix. An HPV infection will cause an abnormal pap smear and is in fact the most common cause of abnormal pap smear results. If you are scheduled to have a pap smear for the first time, here's what you need to know. 

What it Involves

Many women are nervous to get their first pap smear, but rest assured that it is a quick, painless process. The procedure is performed in your doctor's office, where your health care provider will use forceps to open your vaginal canal, then place a thin instrument inside to gently scrape the cells of your cervix. During this time your are lying on your back with both feet resting in stirrups. The sample is then sent to the lab for analysis and your doctor will alert you of any abnormalities. 

You Still Need Regular Screenings While in a Monogamous Relationship

It's recommended that you have a pap screening annually. Many women who are new to having pap smears may mistakenly think that they don't need to get them while in a monogamous relationship. While pap smears can help detect abnormalities caused by sexually transmitted disease, the goal is to catch cervical cancer before it develops. For this reason, you'll still need to continue with annual screenings, even while in a monogamous relationship, as cancer, or precancerous cells can develop at any given time. Regular pap smears do a good job at catching precancerous cells before they develop into cervical cancer. Nearly 80 percent of women diagnosed with cervical cancer failed to have a pap smear in the preceding five years. So continuing with your annual screenings is crucial. 

Your Menstrual Status Matters

You may not be aware of this, but your menstrual status is important when getting your pap smear. Ideally, you should try to schedule your appointment during a time when you won't be near menstruation. Around the time of menstruation, the cells that line your uterus shed and end up showing up on the pap smear, even if you're not bleeding yet. If you are near menstruation, it's imperative to tell your doctor so that the cells are not mistaken as abnormal. 

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23 June 2017

Help Others Make Health Decisions when They Cannot

One day I was playing a game of basketball with a friend, and the friend I was playing ball with tripped and took a hard fall to the ground. He hit his head hard, but he insisted he was okay and just wanted to go home and take a nap. I knew in my heart that he was not thinking clearly, and I didn't feel right letting him go home. I talked him into letting me take him to the hospital, and after some tests, it was determined he had a bad concussion. The doctors told me that if I had let him go home and sleep, things could have taken a turn for the worse. I created this blog to remind everyone to look out for each other after injuries. Not everyone thinks clearly after a head injury, and just being a good friend could save a life.