Parts of the Body Involved
Vagina, cervix (the lower, narrow end of a woman's uterus)
Reasons for Procedure
To check cervical cells for:
· Inflammation of the cervix
· Infection of the cervix
· Changes or abnormalities (cervical dysplasia) that could develop into cancer
Cervical cancer develops relatively slowly, so abnormalities detected early can be treated before cancer develops.
Risk Factors for Complications during the Procedure
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure:
· Do not schedule the Pap test during your menstrual period, if possible, schedule it two weeks after the first day of your period
· Do not use vaginal creams, medications, or douches for 72 hours before the test
· Do not use contraceptives such as spermicidal foams, creams, or jellies for 72 hours before the test
· Do not have intercourse for 24 hours before the test
Tell your doctor if any of the following is true:
· You are having your period
· You are pregnant
· You had a previous Pap test showing abnormalities
· You are sexually active
· You have been exposed to HPV or other sexually transmitted diseases
· You have had abnormal vaginal discharges or vaginal infections
· You have had surgery, radiation treatment, or chemotherapy
During Procedure - A Pap test is typically done as part of a pelvic exam
Anesthesia – None
Description of the Procedure - You lie on your back on an examination table, with legs spread and feet placed in foot rests. A medical instrument, called a speculum, is gently inserted into the vagina, and opened so that the doctor can view the cervix. At this point, a pelvic exam is done. For this exam, the doctor checks the uterus, vagina, fallopian tubes, rectum, and bladder.
For the Pap test, a wooden swab, brush, or stick is inserted into the vagina and used to wipe the walls of the cervix to retrieve cervical cells. These cells are placed on a glass microscope slide and sent to a laboratory for testing and evaluation.
After Procedure - The cervical cells are placed on a glass microscope slide, and sent to a lab for examination
How Long Will It Take? The pelvic exam takes 15-20 minutes, the Pap test portion takes less than 5 minutes.
Will It Hurt? A Pap test is generally painless, although you may feel some pressure or a small cramp when the cervix is wiped to acquire cells for examination.
Possible Complications – None
Average Hospital Stay – None. A Pap test is done at your doctor's office as part of a pelvic exam.
Results of your Pap test are sent to your doctor within 2-3 weeks. Your doctor will then inform you of the results, and, if necessary, discuss any follow-up testing or treatment:
· If cells are normal, no treatment is necessary. Have another Pap test with your next yearly pelvic exam.
· If an infection is found, treatment will be prescribed.
· If abnormalities are found, further tests will be performed. Once the cause of the abnormality is determined, your doctor will discuss treatment options with you. Further tests include:
o Colposcopy - examination of the vagina and cervix with an endoscope, a fiber-optic tube attached to a viewing device
o Biopsy - removal of a small amount of cervical tissue for further testing
Call Your Doctor If Any of the Following Occurs
· Signs of infection, including fever and chills
· Vaginal bleeding between menstrual periods or after menopause
· Bleeding after intercourse
· Foul vaginal odor, pain, or unusual vaginal discharge
· Severe abdominal pain or swelling
This material is intended for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for the medical advice of your doctor or any other health care professional. Always consult with your physician if you are in any way concerned about your health.
© 2003 SLPM Self care Ltd.