Guest Author - Sheila L McHughes
A Pap smear is a test used to detect and prevent cervical cancer. It is a common test that your gynecologist will perform usually during a routine yearly check up.
A colposcope will be used as a guide for your doctor to the abnormal area. A tool is used to gather cells from the outer opening of the cervix. A thin layer of tissue covers the cervix. The cells on the bottom layer move to the surface as new cervical cells develop. The cells are sent to a lab and are examined under a microscope to look for abnormalities. This test is used to detect pre-cancerous changes. This test can also detect infections and abnormalities in the endocervix and endometrium. Screening usually starts about age 20 and should continue until age 50 or 60.
An abnormal Pap smear does not necessarily mean you have cancer or that it will turn into cancer. It may be necessary to watch this through follow up visits. Your doctor may want to obtain additional cells to send to the lab for examination.
A Leep procedure may become necessary to remove the bad cells. A thin wire loop electrode which is attached to an electrosurgical generator will transmit a painless electrical current that cuts away the affected tissue of the cervix. This causes the abnormal cells to heat quickly and burst. Your doctor can control the bleeding during the procedure and will use a topical solution to help prevent further bleeding. Some bleeding may continue after the Leep procedure. You will be advised to not use tampons, not to lift heavy objects, no sexual intercourse for usually 6 weeks, do not douche and showers are recommended over tub baths.
A Leep procedure takes about 30 minutes and is usually performed in your doctors office. It is similar to a pelvic exam because you will lie on the exam table with stirrups for your feet. It will most likely require more frequent visits for continued observation from your doctor.
While most of us ladies do not look forward to a visit to the gynecologist for our yearly check up, it is extremely important they we make and keep these visits.