Gynecological Care / Pap Smears

Gynecological care and routine screenings are essential for the early detection and prevention of precancers, cancers and other health conditions.

Why is gynecological care important?

Gynecological care and routine screenings are essential for the early detection and prevention of precancers, cancers and other health conditions. From contraception to menopause, gynecologic care covers a wide range of topics and your physician or OB/GYN will help you maintain your overall health as much as possible. Women should schedule Well Woman Exams to properly screen for cervical, ovarian, uterine, vulvar and breast cancers. Your doctor will evaluate the results and can help you ward off or treat gynecologic issues.

Pap smears

Pap smears, or Pap tests, are one of the most important screenings for women. The Pap test can save lives by detecting cancers and precancers in the cervix. Precancers are cell changes that could potentially become cancer if they are not properly treated. These tests are covered by most health insurance plans and they should be scheduled every three years between the ages of 21 and 65. Women with weakened immune systems may need to schedule tests more frequently.

If you have had a hysterectomy or your cervix has been removed and you do not have a history of cervical cancer or abnormal Pap results, you do not need to schedule a Pap smear. If you are 65 or older and your last three tests were normal, with no abnormal test results within the past 10 years, you will no longer need to schedule Pap smears.

During the exam, a speculum is used to open the vagina so that the cervix is visible. A stick or brush will then be used to swipe a few cells from the inside and surface of the cervix. The cells are sent away to a lab for testing. Pap tests may be mildly uncomfortable but you should not experience any pain. The results usually take 1-3 weeks to come in. Most of the time, the results are normal, but should you get abnormal results, it does not always mean that you have cancer. Regardless of the results, your doctor will discuss the next steps with you.

Questions about gynecological care or Pap smears?

If you have any questions or concerns about gynecologic care or Pap tests and you live in San Diego County, give us a call at (760) 942-0118. At North Coast Family Medical Group, we want to ensure that you have the information you need to make the best and healthiest decisions.