Pap Smear in Leesburg
Obstetrics & Gynecology located in Centreville, VA & Leesburg, VA
Pap smears, also called pap tests, are a vital cancer screening tool typically performed during a routine gynecological exam. While patients do not typically need to get one of these screenings at every annual exam, women should begin getting pap smears by age 21. If you are looking for a health care provider to perform a pap smear in Leesburg or Centreville, our OBGYNs could help you. Our caring team at Midatlantic OBGYN could help you understand what these tests do, how often you should get one, and the importance of getting these screenings.
The Purpose of Pap Smears
During a pap smear, one of our Leesburg or Centreville gynecologists take a small sample of cells from the cervix (the segment of the uterus connecting to the vaginal canal) and sends the sample to a lab to be examined under a microscope. During examination of the cells, the lab technician will look for any abnormalities to the cells that might indicate disease.
Pap smears are very effective at detecting early warning signs of cervical cancer. If a pap smear shows precancerous lesions, the doctor may then perform a colposcopy. A colposcopy allows them to examine the tissue of the cervix and vagina more closely and take diagnostic samples to test for cancer if needed. In addition to screening for cervical cancer, abnormal cells found during pap smear can also alert healthcare providers to conditions including urinary tract infection (UTI), yeast infection, and bacterial vaginosis.
What Happens During a Pap Smear?
OBGYNs typically perform Pap smears in our Leesburg or Centreville offices. During the procedure, a speculum is inserted to hold the vagina open so that the doctor can see the cervix more clearly. They will then use a small brush to gently scrape cells from the cervix. This process is not usually painful, though there may be an uncomfortable pressure sensation.
After the biopsy of cervical cells, the sample is sent to a lab for analysis. Ideally, patients should not have vaginal intercourse for 24 hours before the test for the more accurate results. Douching and vaginal creams, jellies, or spermicidal foams should also be avoided for two to three days before the pap test.
Screening Guidelines in Leesburg for Pap Smears
Until recently, pap smears were performed once a year as part of the annual gynecological exam that most women begin having at age 21 or earlier. However, updated guidelines based on age and risk factors mean that the tests do not necessarily need to happen every year. Women under 30 can generally be tested every three year, and women older than 30 can be tested every three to five years unless they have a history of an abnormal results.
Our gynecologists in Leesburg and Centreville also test for human papillomavirus (HPV) when they perform a pap smear. HPV is a widespread virus among people who are sexually active, and certain strains can cause cervical cancer. If you test positive for HPV after age 30, you will likely need more frequent pap smears.
Speak with a Leesburg OBGYN to Receive a Pap Smear
Pap smears are a safe and straightforward procedure that can make all the difference in catching cancer in its early stages. If you are unsure whether you are up to date with your cervical cancer screenings, speak with a member of our women's health team to schedule your pap smear test in Leesburg. Our compassionate team is here to protect your sexual and reproductive health.