Pap Test

A Pap test, also called a pap smear, is a test your doctor or nurse does to check your cervix for any cells that are not normal. The cervix is the lower part of the uterus (womb), which opens into the vagina. Abnormal cervical cells, if not found and treated, can lead to cervical cancer.

During a Pap test your doctor or nurse puts a speculum (a tool that helps your doctor or nurse see your cervix) into your vagina and uses a special stick or soft brush to collect cells from the outside of your cervix. The cells are sent to a laboratory for testing.

  • Try not to schedule an appointment for a time during your menstrual period. The best time is at least 5 days after your menstrual period stops.
  • Don’t use tampons, birth-control foams or jellies, other vaginal creams, moisturizers, or lubricants, or vaginal medicines for 2 to 3 days before the Pap test.
  • Don’t douche for 2 to 3 days before the Pap test.
  • Don’t have vaginal sex for 2 days before the Pap test.

How you prepare

Pap Test Result

A Pap test result can be normal, unclear, or abnormal.

  • Normal. A normal (or “negative”) result means that no cell changes were found on your cervix. This is good news. But you still need to get Pap tests in the future. New cell changes can still form on your cervix.
  • Unclear. It is common for test results to come back unclear. Your doctor may use other words to describe this result, like equivocal, inconclusive, or ASC-US. These all mean the same thing—that your cervical cells look like they could be abnormal. It is not clear if it’s related to HPV. It could be related to life changes like pregnancy, menopause, or an infection. The HPV test can help find out if your cell changes are related to HPV.
  • Abnormal. An abnormal result means that cell changes were found on your cervix. This usually does not mean that you have cervical cancer. Abnormal changes on your cervix are likely caused by HPV. The changes may be minor (low-grade) or serious (high-grade). Most of the time, minor changes go back to normal on their own. But more serious changes can turn into cancer if they are not removed. The more serious changes are often called “precancer” because they are not yet cancer, but they can turn into cancer over time. In rare cases, an abnormal Pap test can show that you may have cancer. You will need other tests to be sure. The earlier you find cervical cancer, the easier it is to treat.

Keyword: pap test.

* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.