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Part of taking good care of yourself involves scheduling regular wellness exams and preventive screenings, including pelvic exams and Pap smears. During a Pap test, the gynecologist takes a small sample of cells from the cervix. A laboratory tests the sample for abnormalities that may be indicative of precancerous conditions. In other words, having a Pap test can let you know if you may be at risk of cervical cancer before the cancer develops.

It’s important to visit your gynecologist for regular Pap smears because it is possible to have a false negative result. By having a Pap smear on a regular basis, you increase the chances that your gynecologist will detect any precancerous changes. General guidelines recommend that all women have a Pap test no later than their 21 st birthday or within three years of first having sexual intercourse, if that date is earlier than the 21 st birthday. Since these are general guidelines, it’s advisable to ask your gynecologist when you should start having Pap tests and how often you should have them.

Washington Surgi-Clinic has been providing compassionate, confidential gynecology services near Washington, D.C. since 1973. To schedule an appointment for a Pap test, STD treatment, or pregnancy termination, call us at (202) 659-9403.