Importance of Pap smear test for women age 35 and above
Pap smear test is a process whereby the female cervix is checked for cervical cancer or other health challenges like infection and swelling of the cervix. This is done by collecting cells from the cervix using a swab or spatula and viewed under the microscope. Most women are often confused about the importance of the Pap smear test. They believe going through the Pap smear procedure can help them screen for sexually transmitted diseases or ovarian cancer. This is not true as it only fishes out changes in the cervical cells that can result in cancer of the cervix. But, what is cervical cancer? Cervical cancer takes place when abnormal cells grow beyond control on the cervix. It is caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) which can be transferred from someone who has it to another through sexual intimacy. Cervical cancer is often discovered early through a Pap smear.
When to begin the Pap smear test
When and how often do you need a Pap smear? According to the American congress of obstetricians and gynaecologists, every woman should get a Pap smear at the age of 21, and subsequently every three years until they are 65years. On the other hand, women above 30years can have this test every 5years. Past researches showed that cervical cancer was rampant among women between the ages of 40 and 45 after which the rate of risk drops. However, recent studies have proven otherwise by stating that older women are more prone to the risk of having cancer of the cervix than the younger ones. We all know anything carrying the name “cancer” is always dreaded, for this reason, the Pap smear should be viewed as a necessity for all women.
How is the Pap test done?
The Pap smear is carried out in your doctor’s office and lasts for a few minutes. It requires you to lie on the bed or test table with your face up, knees bent, and heels are resting in straps. A speculum is inserted into your vagina by your doctor for a clearer view of your cervix after which a soft brush or spatula is then used to collect cells from your cervix. The cells are then taken to the laboratory for examination under the microscope. This procedure does not come with pains but could be quite uncomfortable due to the stretching of the cervix by the speculum.
Why should you go for a Pap smear?
Here is where the most important reason for having a Pap smear lies; it helps in detecting the emergence of cervical cancer before it begins. Cancer is known to be a developing disease, i.e., it grows from one phase to another, if detected earlier enough; it can be controlled by treating it before it becomes a more significant problem. Also, because at some points in time a large number of adults have been infected with HPV and not all infections come and go. Sometimes, they lead to lumps in the genitals or cause cervical cancer. This is why consistent Pap test is essential for all women.