Pap Smear & Management of Abnormal Pap Smear/HPV Screening

Pap Smear

Part of living is taking good care of our bodies. While many of us engage in an active and wholesome lifestyle, regular checkups on our bodies are often neglected. For women above the age of 21 in Singapore, a Pap smear is an important screening that helps you understand the health of your body. Is that you? Let’s take a more detailed look at this important medical test.

What is a Pap smear?

A Pap smear is a screening procedure used to examine the cells of the cervix, which is the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina. Named after its inventor, Dr. George Papanicolaou, this test is primarily designed to detect abnormalities or irregularities in cervical cells, particularly changes that could lead to cervical cancer.

Why are Pap Smears Important?

Pap smears occupy a pivotal place in women’s healthcare for several reasons:

In Singapore, the key reason Pap smear tests are such a priority to women’s healthcare is their ability to detect abnormalities in cervical cells at an early stage. These abnormalities may include precancerous changes or the presence of human papillomavirus (HPV). While HPV is a common sexually transmitted infection, some strains of the virus have been found to increase the probability of cervical cancer in a woman. By identifying such issues early, Pap smears provide a window of opportunity for timely intervention and treatment.

If cervical cancer is diagnosed at an advanced stage, treatment becomes more challenging, and the chances of survival diminish. Since Pap smears help catch the disease in its infancy, they significantly increase survival rates and reduce the severity of treatment required.

Pap smear tests allow doctors to establish flexible, personalised screening schedules for individual patients, based on age, medical history and individual risk factors. This tailored approach ensures that women receive the appropriate level of care and screening, optimising the benefits of Pap smears.

In Singapore, the key reason Pap smear tests are such a priority to women’s healthcare is their ability to detect abnormalities in cervical cells at an early stage. These abnormalities may include precancerous changes or the presence of human papillomavirus (HPV). While HPV is a common sexually transmitted infection, some strains of the virus have been found to increase the probability of cervical cancer in a woman. By identifying such issues early, Pap smears provide a window of opportunity for timely intervention and treatment.

If cervical cancer is diagnosed at an advanced stage, treatment becomes more challenging, and the chances of survival diminish. Since Pap smears help catch the disease in its infancy, they significantly increase survival rates and reduce the severity of treatment required.

Pap smear tests allow doctors to establish flexible, personalised screening schedules for individual patients, based on age, medical history and individual risk factors. This tailored approach ensures that women receive the appropriate level of care and screening, optimising the benefits of Pap smears.

Preparing for a Pap Smear Test

Preparing for a Pap smear is simple. First, be sure to schedule the test on a day you’re not menstruating, as blood can interfere with the results. It’s also advisable to avoid vaginal douches, creams, or medications for at least two days before the test, as these can affect the accuracy of the results. You should also inform your gynaecologist about any medications or allergies you have, as this information can be essential for a safe and effective procedure.

The Pap Smear Procedure

A Pap smear procedure tends to be quick and straightforward. You will be asked to undress from the waist down and lie on an examination table. Your healthcare provider will then gently insert a speculum into your vagina to provide a clear view of the cervix. Using a small brush or spatula, they will collect a sample of cells from the cervix. The procedure may cause some discomfort but is generally not painful.

Pap Smear Results

After the Pap smear, the collected cell samples are sent to a laboratory for analysis. It is important to know that results will not be immediate and may take a few weeks to be processed. When you do get your results back, there are generally three possible outcomes from your Pap smear:

number1

Normal

If the results come back as normal, it means no abnormalities were detected in the cervical cells. In this case, you will typically be advised to continue with regular screenings as recommended by your gynaecologist.

number2

Abnormal

An abnormal Pap smear result may indicate changes in the cervical cells. It's important to remember that an abnormal result does not necessarily mean you have cancer. Further screening, such as a colposcopy or HPV test, may be required to determine the nature and extent of any detected abnormalities.

number3

Inadequate

Sometimes, the Pap smear results may be inconclusive due to insufficient cell samples or other factors. In such cases, your gynaecologist may recommend that you repeat the Pap smear procedure

Other Cervical Health Conditions

Besides cervical cancer, Pap smears can also detect these conditions.

Cervical Dysplasia

This condition refers to the presence of abnormal cells on the cervix. It is often a precursor to cervical cancer and can be detected through Pap smears.

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Infections

Many cervical abnormalities are linked to HPV infections, which can lead to cancer if left untreated. Pap smears can detect the presence of high-risk HPV strains.

Pap Smear Screening in Singapore

Pap smear tests in Singapore are easy to obtain but to reduce your risk of discomfort, you should choose a clinic with experience in women’s health. At W Gynae, we prioritise personalised healthcare at every stage of your life. Tell us your needs, and we will do our best to be a partner in taking care of your health.

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Frequently Asked Questions

For women between the ages of 25 and 29, a Pap smear every three years is usually suggested. Women aged 30 and above might be recommended to have a Pap smear combined with a human papillomavirus (HPV) test every five years, as HPV testing can provide additional screening for cervical cancer risks.

The best time to schedule a Pap smear is typically about one to two weeks after the start of your menstrual period, ideally when you are not bleeding. This timing ensures that the sample collected is clear and can provide the most accurate results.

However, if your menstrual cycle is irregular or if scheduling conflicts arise, you should discuss this with your healthcare provider. They can offer advice based on your individual circumstances and may still perform the test with the understanding that if menstrual blood is present, it might affect the results and might necessitate a repeat test at a later date.