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Pap smear examination needs to be done regularly to detect cervical cancer. This is important because cervical cancer is a very dangerous disease and can cause death, but it can be cured if detected and treated early
Pap smear is a procedure for taking cervical tissue or cervical tissue to check the condition of cervical cells in the laboratory. Through this examination, the doctor can detect whether there are abnormalities in the cells or tissues in the cervix that lead to cervical cancer.
Pap smears are recommended to be done regularly, ie every 3-5 years, depending on your disease history and age. Pap smears can usually be done since the age of 21 years.
Pap Smear Examination Procedure
You need to consult a doctor first before doing a pap smear. The reason is, in some conditions, for example when you are menstruating, you may be advised to postpone this examination, so that the results are more accurate.
Then, you are also advised not to have sex, use vaginal cleaning fluids, use tampons, or drugs since 2 days before the pap smear test is done.
The following is the procedure for the Pap smear examination:
1. Wearing special clothes
When you arrive at the hospital and are in the examination room, you will be asked to take off the clothes you are wearing, then change into special clothes that have been provided by the hospital.
2. Lying on the examination table
After you put on special clothes, the doctor will ask you to lie down on the examination table with your legs spread apart.
3. Vaginal opening
The doctor will insert an instrument shaped like a duck cocor or speculum into the mouth of your vagina. The speculum can open the vaginal opening and help widen the field of view, so that the cervical and vaginal areas can be seen more clearly.
4. Tissue sampling
Once the speculum is in place, the doctor will take a sample of cervical tissue using a special plastic spatula and a small brush. After the tissue sample is taken, the speculum will be slowly removed.
5. Laboratory examination
The sample that has been taken will then be sent to the laboratory for testing. Pap smear results will generally come out after a few days or about 1−2 weeks.
Pap smear usually only takes about 10-20 minutes. This procedure can be painful and uncomfortable, but you don't have to be afraid to undergo it, because the pain is usually only mild and temporary.
When doing a pap smear, the doctor may also recommend a human papilloma virus (HPV) test to detect the presence of the HPV virus that causes sexually transmitted infections or genital warts, which can also cause cervical cancer.
Who Needs Pap Smear ?
As previously explained, women who are 21 years old or sexually active are advised to undergo a Pap smear.
For women aged 21–29 years, Pap smear examination should be done regularly, ie every 3 or 5 years. Meanwhile, for women aged 30-65 years who undergo a Pap smear as well as an HPV test, they can have both examinations routinely every 5 years.
Women aged 65 years and over generally do not need to have a pap smear examination, if the results of the previous pap smear examination were normal or did not have complaints that should be suspected as cervical cancer, for example vaginal bleeding after menopause.
However, a woman may be advised to undergo more frequent pap smear examinations, if the doctor finds abnormalities in cervical tissue and has certain medical conditions, such as immunodeficiency due to HIV/AIDS or chemotherapy side effects.
To prevent cervical cancer, you need to practice he althy and safe sex behavior, namely by not changing sexual partners and always wearing a condom when having sex. In addition, you also need to routinely do a Pap smear to detect cervical cancer early.
By doing regular Pap smears according to the doctor's recommended schedule, cervical cancer can be detected early and treated immediately. The sooner cervical cancer is treated, the higher the chance of cure.