Pap smears are recommended for all women over the age of 21, especially if you’re sexually active. The test is safe and easy to perform at any time (except during your period). Women need to get regular screenings to prevent serious medical conditions.
Your Pap Test Results May Detect HPV
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections in the United States for women. The good news is that most HPV infections go away on their own and do not cause any health problems. However, it’s important to get screened for HPV because some types of HPV can lead to cervical cancer.
The Pap test can detect early signs of cervical cancer caused by HPV infection. That’s why it’s so important to get a Pap smear every three years, especially if you’re over 30.
Can Help Prevent Cervical Cancer?
Cervical cancer accounts for less than 1% of all cancers in women in the United States, but it causes more deaths among women than any other female reproductive organ. Most serious cases of cervical cancer occur among sexually active women that have never had a pap smear or who stopped testing.
Any sexually active woman should be taking charge of her health by visiting her healthcare clinic to schedule regular pap tests and pelvic exams. The best way to prevent cervical cancer is early detection, meaning you catch it before it spreads. So women need to find women’s clinics in Illinois to catch it early or it can lead to death.
You May Not Need a Pap Smear Every Year
Some women may be able to wait longer than three years between Pap smears. Longer gaps between testing are usually advised for women that have normal pap smear results. Since HPV and cervical cancer take a long time to develop, it’s not necessary to get screened every year if you’re healthy and have no symptoms. Talk to your doctor about how often you should be screened.
Having Abnormal Results
If your results come back abnormal, don’t panic. It doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s a serious problem. The doctor will schedule a follow-up appointment to find out if treatment is needed. Don’t be embarrassed to ask questions and express any concerns you might have about how your results may affect your daily life or sexual activities.
Your doctor may recommend using protection and retesting within a year to see if your results return to normal. If the abnormalities increase in severity, you may need additional tests to determine the type of cells that are present on your cervix or request a biopsy to find out if there is any cancer.
The bottom line is you have options at this stage, and you’re not alone. In addition to your doctor and healthcare team, find additional support if you’ve received an abnormal pap smear. Talking with other women who have gone through the same experience can help you find comfort as you go through testing and treatment.
If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed or lost when it comes to understanding pap smears, regular doctors visits are key. Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor any questions and find a healthcare provider if you don’t already have one.
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