When women reach a certain age, they will need to have a pap smear. The age ranges depending on the country and state that you are in, but most women will need to have one from the age of 21. This leads to many young women wondering what is a pap smear.

So, what is a pap smear?

The test is done to detect cervical cancer and tumors early, which will lead to the chance of treatment being successful. The test will take some cells from the cervix and then test them for any abnormalities.

You will need to have a test every two years up until the age of 30. After that, you will be able to limit it to every three years after three normal test results in consecution. This will make it possible to spot any abnormalities and call you back in for extra tests.What is a pap smear

How is the test done?

When asking what is a pap smear, many will also ask about how the test is done. The vagina will be opened with the use of a speculum. A brush will then collect the cells from inside the cervix. The cells are then put into a solution, which is then sent for the test.

The test is not painful but many women experience some discomfort. It is just due to the size of the speculum and the placement of it. It is a nerve-wracking experience that will take you out of your comfort zone so there are no surprises that the muscles will be tense.

What will the results tell?

This is a very important part of knowing “what is a pap smear”. The results will come within two or three weeks of having the test done and you will be informed by your doctor. There are times that the test will need to be repeated, usually due to a low amount of cells being collected.

The abnormalities do not always mean cancerous cells. There are times that the abnormalities will detect infections and due to having intercourse the night before the test. To avoid false abnormalities showing up, you should avoid vaginal creams and intercourse for 48 hours before and have yourself checked regularly for infections.

When there are abnormalities, your doctor will evaluate the results to help determine whether a new test is needed. They will have access to your medical records so will be able to see whether there has been a history of infections or whether you have contraception like a diaphragm, which will affect the results.

Having your pap smear

This is something that you should not put off. The pap smear will help catch cervical cancers and tumors early, which will mean you have more chance of survival. However, there is nothing wrong with looking into what is a pap smear test and what to expect before and after. This is a good way to be prepared and relaxed – as much as you possibly can – while you are having the smear test done.