2 Pap Smear Facts Every OBGYN Wants You To Know

Health & Medical Blog

Every woman age 21 to 29 should get a pap smear from an OBGYN about every three years, while women age 30 and over should obtain the cervical cancer screening about every five years until they reach the age of about 65.

Whether you obtain these important cervical health screenings on a regular basis as you should or not, you may not understand how the test works completely and may also not understand what a pap smear is meant to detect. 

Read on to learn two pap smear facts that every OBGYN wants you to know to further your knowledge of this important cancer screening. 

1. An Abnormal Pap Smear Result Does Not Always Signal Cancer

While the goal of a pap smear is to detect abnormal cervical cells that could potentially become cancerous or that are already cancerous, there are also many causes of abnormal pap test results. For this reason, if your OBGYN ever informs you that your pap test results were abnormal without stating the cause of the abnormal result, do not panic until your OBGYN alerts you to the cause of the abnormal result. 

One cause of an abnormal pap smear result is the recent contraction of a sexually transmitted disease (STD) called trichomoniasis. Thankfully, if your pap test reveals you have this STD, antibiotic treatment should resolve it in most cases. The presence of a mild vaginal infection, recent sexual intercourse and cervical changes that occur just before monthly menstruation starts can also lead to abnormal pap test results. 

2. Women Who Contract HPV Are More Likely to Develop Cervical Cancer 

While all women should obtain regular pap smears to help detect cervical cancer in its early stages when it is most treatable, these cervical cancer screenings are especially important for women who have multiple sexual partners. Women with more sexual partners are more likely to contract human papillomavirus (HPV), which is a group of common sexually transmitted viruses. About 14 HPV virus types can cause cervical cancer, and today, cervical cancer development is typically caused by one of these viruses. 

Since HPV can be spread by not just intercourse alone but also the skin-to-skin contact that occurs during intercourse, condoms only offer partial protection from this virus. 

For this reason, all sexually active women should ask their OBGYNs if the HPV vaccine is right for them and limit high-risk sexual activity to help reduce their chance of HPV contraction and the cervical cancer it can lead to. 

In addition, all women should report their sexual habits to their OBGYNs accurately, These doctors may use this information to tailor their cervical cancer screening guidelines. 

Every woman should understand the importance of regular cervical cancer screenings, what abnormal pap test results can mean, and cervical cancer risk factors. Contact your OBGYN to determine if you are due for this important medical test. 


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