A Pap smear is the most effective way to diagnose precancerous cervical changes. The goal is to prevent cervical cancer or treat it in the earliest stages. At Modern Gynecology & Reproductive Health in Midtown Memphis, Tennessee, Susan Lacy, MD, FACOG, and her team provide Pap smears, including testing for human papillomavirus (HPV) as well as comprehensive follow-up care. If you’re due for a Pap test, call Modern Gynecology & Reproductive Health or make an appointment online today.
A Pap smear is a quick and straightforward procedure that checks for abnormal cells on your cervix. The test is painless, although some patients find the whole process mentally uncomfortable. Dr. Lacy has been performing Pap smears for over two decades and is not only gentle but does her best to help you feel comfortable throughout your exam.
While you lie on your back with your feet in stirrups, Dr. Lacy places a speculum into your vagina to hold it open. Then, she uses a slender device that looks like a mascara brush to collect cells from your cervix gently. As soon as she completes the procedure and puts the cell sample into sterile packaging for testing, she removes the speculum. The whole test takes less than five minutes.
You should start to have Pap smears when you turn 21 or become sexually active. In general, women aged 21-65 should have Pap smears every three years. If you’re over the age of 30, Dr. Lacy might recommend having a combined Pap smear and HPV test every five years.
However, if you’ve had abnormal Pap smears in the past or have an elevated risk of cervical cancer, Dr. Lacy might recommend more frequent testing.
If you have abnormal Pap smear results, don’t panic. Often, when a Pap smear has abnormal results, it’s because the technician wasn’t able to analyze the sample properly, and the results are inconclusive.
If you have abnormal results, Dr. Lacy will develop a treatment plan for you. This may require having another pap smear in the next 3 to 6 months or having a more comprehensive evaluation. In some cases, Dr. Lacy might recommend a colposcopy. A colposcope is a type of microscope that allows her to examine your cervix in more detail.
During the procedure, you recline as you do for a Pap smear, and Dr. Lacy places a speculum in your vagina to hold it open. She brushes a solution over your cervix that makes abnormal cells look white and stand out against the healthy tissue.
The colposcope stays outside of your body, and Dr. Lacy looks through it for a magnified view of your cervix. If necessary, she can take a biopsy of your cervical cells for further testing.
If you do have precancerous or cancerous cells, in most cases, Dr. Lacy can remove them with a loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP).
Call Modern Gynecology & Reproductive Health or make an appointment for your next Pap smear online today.