Not every woman needs a pap smear every single year, but every woman (except those without a cervix) should get them on a regular basis. Your gynecologist will let you know how often you should have this important preventive health screening. Pap smears involve taking a sample of cells from the cervix and examining them in a lab. The purpose is to identify potentially abnormal changes of the cervix, called cervical dysplasia. If abnormal changes are detected, the patient can receive treatment before the abnormality develops into cervical cancer.
Pap smears are uncomfortable, but they shouldn’t be painful. If you’ve been avoiding pap smears because of an unfavorable experience in the past, you should find a gynecologist you can trust. Talk to the doctor about your concerns. As advocates of women’s health, gynecologists generally want to do everything possible to help their patients have a stress-free, positive experience.