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Pap Smear Questions

A Pap smear is a common and widely used test used to detect pre-cancerous cells or cancer in the endocervical canal of a woman's reproductive system. Performed at the right time, this test provides doctors with a chance to find and treat pre-cancerous cells at an early stage and stop them from developing into full blown cervical cancer. To learn more about Pap smears, take a look below at the questions that have been answered by the Experts.

What is low grade hyperplasia that has been found in a Pap smear?

This means that the Pap smear exam has detected a change in the size and shape of cells that have been removed from the woman's cervix. Generally, hyperplasia is related to the uterus and not the cervix. In most cases, when a woman receives a low grade Pap, it means one of two things. One – The woman would need to return in six months for another Pap. Or, two - The woman would require a colposcopy. The option to consider would normally depend upon the woman's age. Hyperplasia usually affects overweight women and refers to the thickening of the endometrium, or the inside of the uterus. If a woman has a Pap showing 'Endometrial' cells, it generally means that it is being reported due to the woman being over 40 years of age and may require an endometrial biopsy to check for endometrial cancer.

If a Pap smear determines that a person has contracted HPV (Human papillomavirus), could this be a recent infection?

Generally, a Pap smear can provide a positive test for HPV that could have been contracted years prior to the test or even before a woman started having sexual relations with her current partner. In other words, just because a Pap smear tests positive for the virus doesn't mean the virus is necessarily new. HPV is one of the easiest sexually transmitted viruses that a person can contract. Basically, anyone who is sexually active can be exposed to this virus.

Are Pap smears necessary after having a hysterectomy if one has had normal test results for 20 years?

Usually, if a woman has had normal results with Pap smears and has now had a hysterectomy, there generally wouldn't be any reason to continue with the Pap smears. However, the woman would still need to have routine pelvic exams. If a woman feels safer by continuing the Pap smears that is usually a choice that is open for her to make. Most doctors will perform a Pap smear if the patient requests it to be done. However, as a woman ages, the immune system is compromised. Because of this, a Pap smear performed every three years is also usually suggested.

Can Pap smears detect any type of STD infection? What are the usual symptoms?

While a Pap smear can detect HPV, other types of sexually transmitted diseases such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, and trichomonas generally have to have a specific swab done for each individual disease. In order to detect syphilis, one would require a blood test or have a culture taken from a lesion. As far as the symptoms go, while HPV usually does not provide any symptoms, trichomonas may appear as a bloody discharge. Gonorrhea again may have a grey thick discharge while chlamydia may have signs such as discharge and pain. Pap smears are one way to keep a check on a woman's health by early detection of possible issues. However, many women go through life never having a Pap smear due to various reasons such as fear or modesty. If you are considering having a Pap smear or have questions about it, ask an Expert for medical clarity and assistance. They can offer information both quickly and at an affordable cost.

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