The trained gynecologists at Jackson Healthcare for Women are here to help guide you through the changing care your body requires over the course of your life (from puberty to menopause and beyond). We offer regular exams, including breast exams and Pap smears, and family planning advice and prescriptions, as well as many other services. If you’d like to know more about our gynecological services, please contact us.
Pap smears detect very early signs of abnormal cervical changes that can sometimes lead to cancer. This early screening test really does save lives. Before Pap smears were developed, cervical cancer was common and often fatal for women. Now, cervical cancer is fairly rare in women who are regularly tested, and is easily treated if found early. So even if you’re not at immediate risk, you should receive a Pap smear and breast exam every year (sign up for a free e-mail reminder).
How to prepare for your Pap smear:
- Schedule the annual exam approximately two weeks after the onset of your last period.
- Avoid intercourse for two days prior to the exam.
- Don’t douche, use tampons, vaginal creams, medications, suppositories, feminine hygiene products or vaginal contraception for two to three days prior to the exam.
- Tell your ob/gyn or nurse practitioner (1) the date that your last period started, (2) if you have a history of abnormal Pap smears, and/or (3) if you have any current problems with abnormal discharge, vaginal itching or irritation, or bleeding at times other than your normal menstrual cycle.
Be sure to schedule an exam soon if you are at risk for abnormal Pap smears:
- If you were sexually active before the age of 14.
- If you have had several sexual partners.
- If you smoke or are exposed to second-hand smoke. (Nicotine is concentrated in cervical secretions and suppresses cell immunity. This doubles the risk of cancer.)
- If you have HIV or HPV (human papilloma virus).
- If you frequently get sexually transmitted infections.
- If your mother took DES, a medication used in the 1940s to the 1950s to treat some pregnancy complications.