Regular Pap Smear Testing
If you are at least 21 years old and are sexually active, an annual pap smear is an important part of your healthcare. At Oak Hills Women’s Center in San Antonio, Texas, the healthcare providers perform regular pap smears at the time of your annual wellness appointment. The provider will gently insert a sterilized instrument referred to as a speculum into the vagina with the patient fully draped in a comfortable position in stirrups. The cervix is visualized and a soft swab or brush is gently applied to the cervix to obtain a sampling of cells. The patient may experience some mild and brief pressure in the vagina during the exam that is not harmful. Should your pap smear results be read as being abnormal by the pathologist, then depending upon the severity of the abnormality, your past pap smear history, and the presence or absence of human papilloma virus infection, the gynecologist will decide upon what course of action is appropriate. In some cases, a wait and see approach is chosen with a repeat pap smear scheduled in 6-12 months since the irregular cells noted may go away on their own. If a repeat pap smear continues to be abnormal or the abnormal cells are suspicious/ inconclusive and/or HPV screening should be positive, then a colposcopy will be recommended for further evaluation.
A colposcopic evaluation is performed in the office. It in many ways is similar to a pelvic exam with the proper draping and positioning of the patient. The major difference is that a colposcope, a magnifying device, is positioned to closely examine the cervix in detail. If suspicious tissue changes are identified, a cervical biopsy or biopsies including an endocervical sampling will be obtained for further evaluation and submitted to pathology. Cervical biopsies may cause some brief and temporary mild to moderate pinching discomforts. Bleeding from the biopsy sites is usually controlled with application of hemostatic agents and a tampon. The pathological findings will determine additional management. The patient is instructed to avoid personal relations until seen in follow-up. The patient is instructed to return for discussion of results and management in 2 weeks.