What is it?

Most women in their adult life have had numerous Pap smears. But, what is it? What does it do?

A Pap smear is a screening test for cervical cancer. More specifically it is looking for atypical cervical cells, or dysplastic cervical cells. Dysplasia is a description for precancerous cervical cells. Dysplasia and cervical cancer are caused by HPV, human papilloma virus.

There are many types of HPV including benign strains that cause wart on your fingers or feet. There are two groups of sexually transmitted HPV, a group that causes genital warts and a group that causes cervical cancer. The Gardasil vaccine protects against up to nine different strains of sexually transmitted HPV, two that cause genital warts and up to seven that cause cervical cancer.

The Gardasil vaccine is safe and can greatly reduce your risk of cervical cancer. However even if you received the Gardasil vaccine you should continue to get pap smears to screen for cervical cancer as there are still strains of HPV that cause cervical cancer that we do not yet have a vaccine for that you are susceptible to.

The Pap smear is named after Georgios Papanikolaou, the doctor who developed the screening test.

The procedure involves collecting cells from your cervix — the lower, narrow end of your uterus.

How it Works

Your doctor will gently insert an instrument called a speculum into your vagina. The speculum holds the walls of your vagina apart so that your doctor can easily see your cervix.

Then, your doctor will take samples of your cervical cells using a soft brush or a flat device called a spatula.

The collected cells go to a lab for testing. The results typically take 7 days to get.

Schedule yours today by calling or visiting one of our three Cincinnati OBGYN offices.