If you’re like most women, you probably don’t look forward to Pap tests or pelvic exams. So you may put off your annual well-woman visits, and perhaps even more so at this busy time of year. However, Pap tests and pelvic exams can help keep you healthy through all stages of your life, from your teenage years through post-menopause.
Our experienced OB/GYN providers at Southern Crescent Women’s HealthCare in Fayetteville, Newnan, and Stockbridge, Georgia, offer compassionate and comprehensive gynecology services. In this blog, our team explains why Pap tests and pelvic exams are important for your health.
What is a Pap test and why is it important for my health?
A Pap test, or Pap smear, is a simple procedure that involves swabbing the cells of your cervix, which is at the end of your vagina. The sample is then sent to a laboratory for analysis.
The health specialists then look for abnormal changes in the cells of your cervix. This can help catch issues early, which can make treatment more effective. Pap tests can catch things like sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), cervical cancer, and cervical dysplasia.
If you’re between the ages of 21-65, Pap tests are an important preventative measure. Not everyone needs a Pap test every year. Depending on your history and results of past Pat tests, you may only need a screening every three years.
What is a pelvic exam and why is it important for my health?
A full pelvic exam involves:
- A visual examination of your vagina and vulva to look for signs of infection or disease
- A speculum examination, which uses a metal or plastic tool to hold open your vagina to allow your provider to internally examine your vagina and cervix
- A manual or physical examination to feel your uterus and ovaries and check for any unusual growths or tender areas
Depending on your history and symptoms, your provider may not always need to perform all three parts of the pelvic exam. It’s best to schedule your exam on a day when you won’t be actively menstruating.
Pelvic exams are an important part of your annual health care routine, because they provide the best way for your provider to evaluate the health of your reproductive system. Because the female reproductive system is largely internal, this exam offers a lifesaving way to detect and treat any issues that may arise.
Getting a Pap test and pelvic exam is an important part of preventive health care. These quick, routine exams can identify cervical cancer and other troublesome issues early and help save you from facing serious — even life-threatening — complications.
To get a Pap test and pelvic exam, book an appointment online or over the phone with Southern Crescent Women’s HealthCare today.