Questions and answers about Pap smear

The Pap smear, also known as the Pap test, is one of the tests that are usually included when we do a gynecological exam. It consists of obtaining a sample of the epithelium (a type of very thin skin), which covers the cervix, to identify early if there are alterations that over time could become cancerous lesions. In fact, this is its main objective, although it also serves to identify other changes, such as some infections, for example.

Once we know what the Pap smear and what are the objectives of it, it is time to resolve other doubts:

When should the first cytology be done?
Although the experts do not agree, in general it is recommended to go to the midwife for the first cytology after having initiated intercourse. A second cytology would be repeated a year, and if the result of both is normal, it is recommended to have controls every 3-5 years until age 65, as long as there are no alterations. From the age of 65 it is not necessary to perform them, as long as the results have been normal and there is no history of precancerous lesions.

Is any kind of prior preparation needed?
Before doing a cytology, you have to take into account a series of recommendations:

- Do not have coital sexual relations in the previous 48 hours.

- Do not perform internal washings or vaginal douches.

- Not having a period (it is recommended that menstruation has ended 3-4 days before).

- Not having used creams or other vaginal treatments in the last week.

How it is performed?
Become a cytology It can be somewhat uncomfortable, but in general it is not painful, although this is somewhat subjective and depends on personal circumstances.

To do this, a speculum is inserted into the vagina to separate its walls and to be able to visualize the cervix. This is a good time to ask your midwife to show you with a mirror what your cervix (also called the cervix) looks like. It is generally an area of ​​our body that is usually unknown to most women, but the simple fact of observing it for the first time and knowing what its real appearance is helps us lose fear.

Once the cervix is ​​visualized, the midwife will take a sample with a swab or brush (similar to the swabs used for the ears but longer and rougher at the end). There are two types of collection techniques:

- Triple take
The midwife will take three samples from three different areas of the cervix and spread them on a small glass (slide) that is sent to the laboratory.

- Cytology in liquid medium
A single sample collection is filled into a small bottle with a preservative liquid and sent to the laboratory. This technique is more innovative and is spreading little by little in our environment due to the advantages it presents: greater ease of collection and analysis of samples, and the possibility of detecting the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV).

What diseases are detected with a cytology?
The Human papilloma virus it is a virus that is transmitted sexually. There are many subtypes of HPV, and some of them, when persistent, cause cervical cancer. It is important to note that not all HPV infections end in cancer (only 10%), but it does seem that all cervical cancers they start with an infection with this virus. Cytology is the method indicated to detect it early.

If the result of the cytology is normal (negative), we will not have to repeat it for 3-5 years, as indicated by our midwife or doctor. Sometimes the result can show an infection or inflammation that may need to be treated, but does not need further monitoring.

If the result is positive, it does not mean that there is cancer, but that there are altered cells and more tests and / or more frequent controls are needed.

Your midwife will show you the steps to follow, count on her!

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Video: Pap smear guidelines (January 2022).