Podcast Transcript: Do You Need a Pap Smear?
As a new mother you will realize how important it will be for you to be healthy and alive for as long as possible. You have someone who needs you. Also, you want to be around to watch your baby grow.
There are so many bad things that can happen to our bodies. We are fragile. Thankfully, there are a few times where we can see that a disease is trying to develop long before it is a problem. One of these is cervical cancer.
Cervical cancer is a disease that can affect young and older women. Like many cancers—by the time you notice any symptoms it may be too late. We are now very good at finding and stopping any chance of cervical cancer. The first step in this process is a simple Pap smear.
A Pap smear is part of a pelvic exam that you have at your OB/GYN office. A few loose cells are collected from your cervix. Your cervix is at the bottom of your womb. We look at these cells under a microscope. The appearance tells us a lot about how healthy your cervix is.
If there are some bad changes to your cervix we call this dysplasia. There are different degrees of abnormalities. Thankfully, most of these will go away on their own. Sometimes the cells need some treatment.
Actually the treatment is not as bad as it sounds. You are comfortable and the cells are easily removed. Your cervix will heal fine. Your cervix is important for holding your pregnancy inside your womb. This is another reason to make sure that you get your Pap smears.
Even if you are pregnant you should have a Pap smear. Getting a Pap smear should not hurt. You may need one after your pregnancy if you had any changes or abnormalities on your Pap smear. If you did not have a Pap smear during pregnancy make sure you get one after your pregnancy.
The time to get a Pap smear is within 3 years of your first sexual activity or if you are 21 years of age. Also, like it says above, if you are pregnant it would be a good idea.
If there are some abnormal changes on your Pap smear the doctor might want to wait a while and then repeat the Pap smear. Again, most of the time the changes are not the bad kind and they will go away on their own. Inflammation is a term that means there is some irritation to the area. This irritation could come from sexual activity or a mild infection.
If the changes look like dysplasia then your doctor will do a colposcopy. This is just looking at your cervix with a microscope. Again, this sounds scary, but it does not hurt. Remember, you are trying to prevent cervical cancer. Cervical cancer is a horrible, painful disease. It is much easier to have a colposcopy if your doctor says so.
Do you know where cervical cancer comes from? It may sound strange, but there is a virus called HPV that is passed back and forth when you have sex. If your partner had it then you may get it. HPV is very common. Most of the time it does not cause an infection and it goes away on its own. It can stay with your cervix, though, and some types of HPV can cause problems.