Pap smears are completed through routine vaginal exams. In Canada, a Pap test is the most effective and recommended screening test for cervical cancer. In B.C., it is recommended women aged 25-69 be screened every 3 years.
A Pap test is a procedure that removes a small sample of cells from the cervix. It is done to look for changes to the cells in the cervix.
Why a Pap test is done?
A Pap test is mainly used to:
- screen for and help diagnose precancerous conditions of the cervix and cervical cancer
- help diagnose precancerous conditions of the vagina and vaginal cancer
- diagnose infection and inflammation in the lower female reproductive tract
- follow up after an abnormal Pap test or to monitor precancerous conditions
- check for abnormal cell changes or to see if cancer comes back (recurs) after treatment
Maintaining proper vaginal health aids to prevent irregular pap tests and decreases chances of cervical abnormalities. Some sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are linked with decreased fertility, cancers, and systemic disease. A healthy vaginal is free from STIs, yeast and bacteria vaginosis. Adequate healthy microflora in the vagina will aid in proper vaginal health. STI testing, regular paps, yeast and dysbiosis tests should be completed routinely to ensure good vaginal health.