As preventive health screenings go, the Pap smear is arguably one of the simplest and most effective. This basic tool allows you to check for signs of cervical cancer and precancer long before it has a chance to take hold. At Park Avenue Women’s Center, Dr. Gila Leiter, Dr. Shari Leipzig, and Dr. Douglas Moss encourage their Yorkville, Upper East Side, New York City patients to make a Pap smear part of their regular preventive health care. Call today to get your Pap test done, or use online scheduling to book an appointment.
A Pap smear, also called a Pap test, is a very simple tool that’s designed to detect abnormal cell changes on your cervix. The test itself is very easy. Your OB/GYN simply takes a swab of your cervix, and the cells are examined under a microscope.
Your OB/GYN often performs this test as part of your annual wellness exam while you’re in your childbearing years. Once you pass through menopause, your doctor tests you less frequently, and eventually not at all.
The results of your Pap smear either come back as normal or abnormal. An abnormal test result means that you may have abnormal cell changes on your cervix.
These cell changes are mostly due to the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is the most common sexually transmitted disease, affecting 79 million Americans, mostly in early adulthood. There are over 150 types of HPV, approximately 40 of which can lead to cancer, which is where the Pap smear comes in.
Abnormal Pap results signal to your OB/GYN that they need to monitor you more closely, which they do by performing a colposcopy. For normal Pap smear results with HPV infection, your doctor will retest you in a year. Tests for other STDs like gonorrhea and chlamydia can also be performed on your Pap smear specimen.
With a colposcopy, your OB/GYN uses a specialized instrument to take a closer look at your cervix. Your doctor may then remove a tiny piece of your cervical tissue for a biopsy.
If your results show persistent abnormal cell changes, your OB/GYN may turn to a loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP) to remove the affected tissue.
If you’re showing outward signs of an HPV infection, namely genital warts, your doctor clears those up with a topical medication that is applied in the office. You may be offered home treatment for warts with careful surveillance to make sure they clear up completely.
It should be noted that the Park Avenue Women’s Center offers a highly effective vaccine against HPV called Gardasil® 9, which they administer to girls and women between the ages of 9-26. Gardasil 9 is given three times within six months. Boys should also receive Gardasil 9.
To schedule a yearly wellness exam, including a Pap smear, call the office or use the online scheduling tool to book an appointment.