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Why you need a Pap smear

The whole concept of having a Pap smear can seem awkward and uncomfortable. But there’s no denying how crucial it can be in the early detection and prevention of several health concerns. We share some reasons why it’s important to gather your courage and see your family doctor for your annual Pap test.

Woman at the doctor

It is recommended

According to MedicineNet, doctors recommend getting a yearly Pap smear after you have been sexually active for three years or when you turn 21, whichever comes first. Once you are in a serious, long-term, monogamous relationship and have had three normal Pap smears in a row, you can reduce your annual check to once every other year.

The process is simple

The procedure for a Pap smear may sound complex and uncomfortable, but it is actually quite simple. Your doctor inserts a speculum to check the cervix for any visible signs of STDs. He or she then brushes the cervix with a swab to collect cells that are then sent to a pathologist to examine for any mutations.

It can prevent cervical cancer

A Pap test is essentially the vaginal equivalent of a mammogram. Like a mammogram, it may be an uncomfortable process, but it is a crucial step in ensuring early detection and long-term health. Getting your annual Pap smear could allow your doctor to discover cellular changes caused by HPV before those cells become cancerous or develop into genital warts. These mutations can take years to show up as visually changed cells, and by that time, the situation has often become more serious and potentially allowed the cancer to spread to other parts of the body.

You can use the opportunity for other tests

Although a Pap smear is specifcally targeted toward visible symptoms of STDS and irregular cells that may lead to cervical cancer, you can use the opportunity to check for other STDS you may be concerned about. Sexually transmitted diseases such as gonorrhea and chlamydia are asymptomatic, which means they show no visible or sensory symptoms and can therefore go undetected for years. If you are worried you may have come into contact with such diseases, ask your doctor to check for them as well.

It’s worth it

As uncomfortable as it may seem, the whole Pap process takes under five minutes, and in that small window of time, you may be saving your life. So take the time to see your gynecologist or family doctor, and get your annual Pap smear as soon as possible.

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