Forty years ago, cervical cancer was the leading cause of death in American women. Today, thanks to the standardized use of Pap smears, the number of cervical cancer cases and the women who die from the condition has dropped significantly. At Capital Women’s Care - Bethesda, the team of professionals -- including Dr. Lewis Townsend, Dr. John Gschwend, Dr. Deena Kleinerman, and Nurse-Midwife Kimberly Severn -- provide Pap smears to patients in and around Bethesda, Maryland. If you’re in need of a Pap smear, don’t wait to get this life-saving screening. Call the office today to book your appointment.
A Pap smear is a screening test that identifies cervical cancer and precancerous cells. Your gynecologist uses a small, brush-like instrument to scrape cells from your cervix painlessly. These cells are then viewed under a microscope for any abnormalities and cancerous changes.
If your Pap smear shows any worrisome cellular changes, your doctor may request further testing, including a biopsy. This shows areas that require treatment and removal of any precancerous cells.
When you have a Pap smear at Capital Women’s Care - Bethesda, your gynecologist has you lie on your back with your feet in stirrups for a pelvic exam. Using a speculum to open the vagina allows your doctor to view and examine your cervix.
Your gynecologist twirls a small brush around the opening of your cervix to gather cells and may collect a second sample from the outside surface of your cervix. The brushes and cell samples are then placed in a solution and will later be put onto a slide for laboratory evaluation.
The team at Capital Women’s Care recommends that women between the ages of 21-65 have a Pap smear every three years. If you’re above 30 and have a human papillomavirus (HPV) test with your Pap smear, you can wait five years between procedures.
If you test positive for precancerous cells or have abnormal cellular growth, your doctor may recommend more frequent Pap smears. After a hysterectomy with cervix removal, a Pap smear is no longer necessary.
To get the best and most reliable results from your Pap smear, the Capital Women’s Care - Bethesda practice asks that you avoid sexual intercourse, vaginal douching, and any vaginal medications for two days before your scheduled test.
Avoid scheduling your Pap smear during your period. If you’re having light spotting, your doctor may still perform the procedure, but it’s best to avoid it during menstruation.
If it’s been more than three years since your last Pap smear or you have an increased risk of HPV, call Capital Women’s Care today to schedule your initial consultation. You can even book your appointment online.