Irving Primary Care

The importance of getting a pap smear

Getting a regular medical checkup is the key to preventing any serious illnesses that may develop later. .

One of the most important tests women over 21 should get done is a pap smear. A pap smear is crucial in determining the signs of cervical cancer. Don’t wait until it’s too late for you to do anything.

Cervical cancer

Cervical cancer results in an abnormality in the cells of the cervix, which is the section of the uterus forming the opening of the vagina. Like all cancers, the earlier you find out and treat it, the better, because cervical cancer also has very serious consequences. This can only be detected through a pap smear test.

The causes of cervical cancer

Cervical cancer is caused due to the cells in the cervix being infected with HPV. HPV, or Human Pappiloma virus, is caused by unsafe sexual activity between people. It is important to note that HPV doesn’t always cause cervical cancer but it does increase the likelihood of a woman suffering from it. Since there are different types of HPV, you should get a pap smear test that will determine which type you have contracted. It is common for sexually active people to be infected with HPV and the symptoms vary.

A pap smear test not only shows if you have any HPV, but it also detects any changes in the cells of the cervix that could lead to cancer.


  • Pain in the pelvic area
  • Abnormal vaginal discharge
  • Abnormal bleeding from the vagina (not related to menstruation, menopause etc)
  • Pain after or during sex

Preparing for the pap smear test

To get screened for cervical cancer, you need to get an appointment with a gynecologist or primary care provider at your earliest. After the consultation, your doctor will get a pap smear test done. A sample of your cells from the cervix will be taken to the lab to be tested. In some cases, a biopsy is also done if you are experiencing any serious symptoms or if there are signs of a cancerous growth.

How often should one get a pap smear test?

The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends screening for cervical cancer in women age 21 to 65 years with a pap smear every 3 years or, for women ages 30 to 65 years who want to lengthen the screening interval, screening with a combination of pap smear and HPV testing every 5 years.