The majority of women should get Pap smears on a regular basis. Women who are, or have been, sexually active need to have Pap smears even if their sexual activity was months or years in the past. Many people are surprised to find out that even menopausal females and women who have had sex with just one person should still have Pap smears. People often assume that women who had a hysterectomy don't need Pap smears, but, in fact, they need to have regular Pap smears just like other women do. Many OB/GYNs also recommend this test for patients over age 18 even if they have never been sexually active.
The patient will lay in the same position needed for a regular pelvic exam. The OB/GYN will insert a speculum, a small expandable metal device, into the vagina. The cervix is gently opened so that the doctor can use a tiny tool to remove a small sample of cervical cells. Usually, the entire process takes no more than a few minutes.
The OB/GYN will tell each woman what to expect in terms of test result timelines. The office will usually call with information once the test results have arrived. In cases where the test results show an abnormality, the patient will normally need to come in to see the doctor again so treatment can be scheduled.
Most OB/GYNs recommend that their patients have Pap smears once a year or more. The test frequency may need to be adjusted according to current health concerns, current age, and other factors. In some cases, a Pap smear is done as part of a regular yearly check-up.
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