Double Sunrise Young Women's Health: early teen to college years

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GeneralHealth Info

Pap Smear: What is it?

A Pap smear is an important test for a young woman that is done easily during a pelvic exam A Pap test, or Pap smear is a screening test that finds cells on the cervix that have "changed from normal". To do the test during a pelvic exam, the practitioner gently swabs to collect cells around the opening of the cervix and then sends the specimen to a laboratory for review.

What does it mean if cells "change from normal"?

Traditionally, Pap tests were used to find abnormal cells that could or would eventually, if not treated, become cancer cells. Actual cervical cancer cells also can be found with a Pap smear.

Today, it is helpful that a Pap test can also detect some common infections. One STD that affects sexually active young women, Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) can be detected by a Pap test. HPV, which is also called genital warts, can be on the cervix and invisible to the practitioner, but detected in the laboratory review of the Pap smear.

What's most important is to:

  • Make and keep your appointments
  • Follow instructions and recommendations from your health care provider
  • Ask questions and make sure you understand your care

Follow up with Pap smears and exams as your practitioner recommends.

I feel fine. Do I need a Pap smear? (Or what if I'm afraid to go?)

Even if you feel fine and have no symptoms of problems it is important to have a Pap smear. Even if you are afraid, if you fall under the guidelines of "Who Should Have a Pelvic Exam " it is in your best interest to make an appointment. That way, problems can be found and treated before they become serious. Remember, what is most scary is to have a problem and not know it.

Where to go for help You can have a pelvic exam and a pap smear by contacting your doctor, nurse practitioner or clinic. Planned Parenthood can tell you a clinic close to you. For immediate help call 911 or your operator, or go to the nearest hospital Emergency Room. When in doubt, follow instructions for immediate help, or call the hospital emergency room and speak to the triage nurse.

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The information contained in this website and/or provided by DoubleSunrise, its agents, servants and/or employees is general health information for educational purposes only. This site does not and cannot provide medical advice or a diagnosis for any person who requires direct medical care and this site should not be used as a substitute for medical care and/or the advice of your personal physician or professional healthcare provider. Specific medical questions you have about your medical condition, treatment, care or diagnosis should be presented to your own professional healthcare provider. Medical information changes rapidly and while DoubleSunrise frequently updates the content of this site, some information may be out of date. You agree that it is not your intent to establish a physician-patient relationship with DoubleSunrise, its agents, servants and/or employees.

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