The Pap test is a very useful test for the diagnosis of cervical cancer. This is essentially an examination of the cells in the reproductive system. It is not a microbiological test, but it assesses the condition of the cells to detect any lesions.
The cells are isolated from the following areas:
- the vagina
- the outer surface of the cervix
- the inner surface of the cervix
During menstrual flow the test cannot be performed. The ideal time for the test is around the middle of the menstrual cycle. If the cycle is normal (28 days), the best time frame for the test is near ovulation. During this period of time the cervix is open, so as to fertilize the egg, and, therefore, it is much easier to isolate cells from the area.
Before the test, the woman should abstain from sex for 2 or 3 days. Abstinence is important because otherwise there may be cell alterations or minor injuries.
The test prevents all forms of cervical and uterine cancer.
The test should be performed for the first time 8 to 12 months after the woman’s first sexual intercourse.
The Pap test should be performed annually. When a woman has been in menopause for several years and she does not change sexual partners, but has sexual intercourses, she may undergo a Pap test every two years. When there are no sexual intercourses and the woman has been in menopause for several years, that is, at the age of 75-80 years, it is not necessary to have a Pap test.