well Woman Exam
Well woman exams are the foundation for wellness, health promotion and disease identification and management throughout your life. A Well Woman Exam, also known as a Pap-smear, is a diagnostic test of a sample of cells from the surface of a woman’s cervix to check for abnormalities that can develop into cancer. It also checks for:
- Inflammation of the cervix
- Infection of the cervix
- Changes or abnormalities (cervical dysplasia) that could develop into cancer
Cervical cancer develops relatively slowly, so abnormalities detected early can be treated before cancer develops.
Prior to Procedure:
- Do not schedule the Pap test during your menstrual period; if possible, schedule it two weeks after the first day of your period.
- do not use vaginal creams, medications, or douches for 72 hours before the test.
- Do not use contraceptives such as spermicidal foams, creams, or jellies for 72 hours before the test.
- Do not have intercourse for 24 hours before the test.
Tell your doctor if any of the following are true:
- You are having your period
- You are pregnant
- You had a previous Pap test showing abnormalities
- You are sexually active
- You have been exposed to HPV or other sexually transmitted diseases
- You have had abnormal vaginal discharges or vaginal infections
- You have had surgery, radiation treatment, or chemotherapy
- You are taking birth control pills, hormone pills, or using hormone cream
- Do not apply deodorant, talcum power, lotion, or perfume near your breasts or under your arms.
- some women experience less discomfort during brest compression if they take two ibuprofen tablets about an hour before the test.
- Wear a two-piece outfit; you will need to remove all of your clothing and jewelry from the waist up and change into a gown that opens in the front.
- Bring copies of previous mammogram’s and reports with you.
- Inform the technician if you are pregnant or have brest implants.
- Describe any brest problems to the technician before x-rays are taken
During the Procedure:
You lie on your back on an examination table, with legs spread and feet placed in foot rests. A medical instrument, called a speculum, is gently inserted into the vagina, and opened so that the doctor can view the cervix. At this point, a pelvic exam is done. For this exam, the doctor checks the uterus, vagina, fallopian tubes, rectum, and bladder.
For the Pap test, a wooden swab, brush, or stick is inserted into the vagina and used to wipe the walls of the cervix to retrieve cervical cells. These cells are placed on a glass microscope slide and sent to a laboratory for testing and evaluation. The whole procedure will take roughly 20 minutes.
After the Procedure:
Results of your Pap test are sent to your doctor within 2-3 weeks. Your doctor will then inform you of the results, and, if necessary, discuss any follow-up testing or treatment:
- If the cells retrieved were normal, no further treatment will be necessary. Make sure to have another Pap test with your doctor during your next yearly pelvic exam.
- If an infection is found, further treatment will be prescribed.
If abnormalities are found, further tests will be performed. Once the cause of the abnormality is determined, your doctor will discuss treatment options with you. Further tests include:
- Colposcopy – an examination of the vagina and cervix with a colposcope which allows the doctor to see the cervix more clearly.
- Biopsy – removal of a small amount of cervical tissue for further testing.