Pap Smear

Gyne Health Women's Center

Women's Health and Wellness & Medical Weight Loss located in Alexandria, VA

A Pap smear is a simple test that can save your life. At Gyne Health Women's Center in Alexandria, Virginia, knowledgeable nurse practitioners Joanna Sampson, FNP, NP, and Dr. Ashwina Sheth, ensure your Pap tests are pain-free and fast so you can maintain your health without stress. To set up a Pap smear appointment, call the caring team at Gyne Health Women's Center, or use the online booking form.

Pap Smear Q & A

What is a Pap smear?

A Pap smear is a fast and easy test that lets your health professional look for changes in the cells that line your cervix, which is the opening to your uterus. Abnormal cells may indicate that you’re at risk for uterine cancer.

However, most Pap smears are normal. If your cells are abnormal, the team recommends you for more testing and possible early treatment.

What happens when I get a Pap smear?

A Pap smear is part of your well-woman exam. You may also get a Pap smear if you want to be tested for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

During a Pap smear, you lie back on the exam table with your feet in the stirrups. Your nurse inserts an instrument called a speculum into your vagina and then expands it so she can see your cervix. She quickly takes a swab of the cells in and around the cervical opening.

Your provider then removes the speculum. Pap tests take about 10 minutes.

What happens when I get the results of my Pap smear?

The lab takes a week or two to analyze the cells from your Pap smear. Once the results are ready, the team at Gyne Health Women's Center lets you know. If your results are normal, you don’t have to do anything else; you’re not at risk for cervical cancer.

If your results are abnormal, that doesn’t mean you have cervical cancer. The abnormal cells may be precancerous changes, or the sign of an infection with human papillomavirus (HPV) or herpes, or another condition entirely. Your nurse may redo the Pap smear or recommend you for another test called colposcopy, which is similar to a Pap smear.

If you have precancerous changes, your nurse may recommend various procedures to remove them, including cryosurgery (cold therapy) or surgical removal. If the cervical cells are cancerous, you’re referred to an oncologist.

How often should I get a Pap smear?

You should get a Pap smear every three years from the ages of 21 to 65. Young adults and teenagers should start Pap smears after three years of becoming sexually active. If you’re between the ages of 9 and 26, you can also get a vaccine that protects against HPV infection — the most common cause of cervical cancer.

To set up your Pap smear, contact the team at Gyne Health Women's Center, or use the online form.