In the two days before the test, you should avoid:
- Using a tampon
- Using any suppositories, creams or medications that must be inserted into the vagina
- Using any vaginal deodorant sprays or powders
- Having sexRecommended cervical cancer screening schedule:
- Ages 18-34: Pelvic exam every one to three years; after three consecutive normal tests, a Pap test can be performed every one to three years based on baseline results.
- Ages 35-49: Pelvic exam and Pap test every one to three years, based on physician review.
- Ages 50-64: Pelvic exam and Pap test every one to three years, based on physician review until age 65.
- Ages 65+: Based on physician recommendation.
What to expect
- The Pap test is done during a pelvic exam.
- A doctor uses a device called a speculum to widen the opening of the vagina so that the cervix can be examined.
- A plastic spatula and small brush are used to collect cells from the cervix.
- After the cells are taken, they are placed into a solution and sent to a lab for testing.
- Results are usually mailed to you within a week or two. The doctor's office may call you.
Researchers are developing better ways to detect cervical cancer. A newer test, the Thin Prep test, transfers a thin layer of cells onto a slide. Because this sample can be preserved, a test for HPV can be done at the same time. Some physicians use a fluorescent light to detect changes in the precancerous cells in the cervix.
Your doctor may order an HPV test under the following conditions:
- If your Pap test shows unusual cells, your doctor may order an HPV test
- An HPV test may be done along with a Pap test if you are age 30 or older. The longer you have HPV, the higher your risk of cancer.
- Women in their 20s don't need an HPV test in addition to the Pap test. HPV infection is very common in this age group and usually goes away.
- The HPV test is not used for men. Most of the time, men don't develop health problems from HPV.