A Pap smear, also referred to as a Pap test, is a common procedure used to test for cervical cancer in women. The Pap smear is usually done in conjunction with a pelvic exam and is used to detect changes in the cervical cells that may suggest cancer developing in the near future. Detecting abnormal cells with a smear test is the first step in halting any further possible development of cervical cancer.
In general, when to begin Pap smear testing is decided in consultation with your doctor. Doctors typically recommend beginning Pap testing at the age of 21 and should be done at least once every year or two, depending on the various variables from patient to patient. There are plenty of reasons to get a Pap smear done — in addition to screening for cervical cancer, these tests can help determine whether the patient is living a healthy and balanced lifestyle.
If you are experience vaginal bleeding or unusual vaginal discharges, it may be time to have a Pap smear done. Pap smears are great for women who may have any unusual or unsettling feelings when it comes to back pain, urination, or heavy periods. Any changes, minor or major may have implications later down the line. Having an annual check-up can help allow doctors to detect any changes that may have occurred from your last test.
A Pap smear can detect cells that are in the precancerous stage, which can allow the implementation of preventive treatment. In addition to detecting precancerous lesions, the test can also help to spot any other issuesthat may appear in the cervical or vaginal area, such as infections. If issues are spotted early, there are plenty of treatment options available to help the patient get back to their healthy, normal selves.
Health in general
Even if you do not believe there is anything wrong with you, Pap smears should still be implemented as part of your general health regimen. Catching infections early can help reduce the risk of not only cervical cancer but other forms of cancer that could be lingering in your body. It is important to keep in mind that having a family history free of cancer does not translate into your likelihood of developing a similar condition.
Tobacco and recreational drugs
If you have a smoking habit or use recreational drugs, having a Pap smear can allow you to have peace of mind. The same goes for people who engage in an active sex life or have recently given birth. Although Pap smears are being regularly implemented, there is still embarrassment and fear that comes with the test.
The bottom line
Cervical cancer among women is worryingly on the rise despite all this. This makes having a Pap smear done even more important. Testing is the number one way to catch a disease or issue before it becomes too late. Do not put off your Pap smear — although they may not be the most pleasant experience, they go a long way in maintaining your health and that of your family.
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