Have you ever wondered if you can have sex after a Pap smear? Well then, This is one of the main doubts after undergoing this gynecological visit. Therefore, below we want to examine the most relevant aspects of this test to finally resolve this concern.
What is a Pap smear?
First of all, before answering whether you can have sex after a Papanicolaou, it is appropriate to define what this test is, which we also call PAP. This is a gynecological visit in which a health care professional takes a sample from the woman’s cervixwhich is the final part of the uterus that contacts the vagina.
Once the sample has been taken with a swab, a brush or a small palette designed for this purpose, it is placed in a glass portion —the slide— or in a bottle with a special liquid to preserve the cells that are there. .
The sample will be sent to a laboratory, where a pathologist is located a doctor specialized in the interpretation of cells under a microscope, Make a report based on what you saw. This report returns to the woman, days later, so that she can continue according to the results obtained.
The Papanicolaou test is recommended as a preventive measure for early detection of problems with the cervix.
What is the test for?
The purpose of the PAP test is to detect cervical cancer early. This means diagnosing it in time, in its initial stages, to give it correct treatment and avoid complications deriving from a late diagnosis.
This cancer has its origin in the human papillomavirus —HPV or HPV—, which after being acquired by infection, causes changes in the cells of the woman’s cervix. These alterations, if maintained for years, could lead to cancerous transformations, as he explains in a publication by MedlinePlus.
That’s it The PAP test is very powerful prevention tool of this type of cancer. It is accessible, low cost to the healthcare system and is available virtually anywhere in the world.
Who and how often should be tested
Depending on age and previous PAP results in previous years, the frequency with which the woman will be called for future check-ups can vary.
In general, it should be carried out by women over the age of 18, 21 or 25, according to the different recommendations of each country. apart from this, an examination every three years is suggested if the results are normalup to 30.
From this age and up to 60 or 65 years, the recommendation is to get tested every 5 years, if done in combination with HPV. Otherwise, the frequency of every three is maintained.
On the other hand, there are factors that increase the chance of cancer, so people who belong to risk groups should do it more regularly. Among these are:
- If you have previously run a test with abnormal results,
- When there is a weakened immune system,
- HIV infection or any other sexually transmitted disease,
- If the person has had HPV,
- When there is genital warts,
- If the person has had multiple sexual partners within a year,
- Or if you have been in relationships with people who have multiple sexual partners.
Possible Pap smear results
PAP will basically be reported with two types of results: normal or abnormal. A normal result is one in which the pathologist identifies only cells in the woman’s cervix that are considered healthy.
The only action taken in these cases is the continuation of periodic checks. However, outliers are reported differently:
- Atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance: perhaps they are inflammatory changes and not precancerous. In this case, the PAP can be supplemented with a test to detect the HPV virus.
- Squamous intraepithelial lesion: if cells are detected that can be considered precancerous, i.e. that would turn into cervical cancer in the long term. The doctor will require new diagnostic methods.
- Atypical glandular cells: This variety requires other tests that your doctor will request, as it is not clear whether these are precancerous cells or not.
- Squamous cell carcinoma or adenocarcinoma cells: this report almost confirms the presence of cervical cancer. It is the most unlikely outcome, but if present will require immediate consultations for treatment.
The previous preparation
For the PAP test to be as accurate as possible, in addition to the technical issues of sample collection, advance preparation is essential, which This will ensure that the pathologist receives healthy cells for proper analysis.
As detailed in a specialized publication of Mayo Clinicthe basic recommendations for the days before sampling —2 or 3 days before— are as follows:
- Don’t have sex.
- Avoid using tampons.
- Don’t take a shower.
- Do not use contraceptive foams.
- Reschedule the test if it is running Vaginal drug treatment (antifungal suppositories, for example).
- Do not use vaginal creams or powders, or deodorants or perfumes.
The timing of the PAP test with respect to the woman’s menstrual cycle is also fundamental. The ideal is schedule sample collection approximately five days after the end of menstrual bleeding.
Can you have sex after a Pap smear?
There is a common question among women: Can I have sex after a Pap smear? The answer is yes, in most cases.. Immediately after leaving the place where the sample was taken, the woman was able to resume her normal life.
However, you need to be aware of it some symptoms may appear after performing the test. According to Johns Hopkins Universityare the following:
- bleeding: a little is normal, but if it is excessive, you should consult your doctor. Either way, sex drive can be affected.
- Appearance of flow with bad smell.
- Fever or chills.
- Abdominal pain.
Except in the case of minor bleeding, for the other consequences of the examination it will be necessary to consult the doctor. It is important to clarify that, although these may occur, the most frequent thing is that the exam does not leave this type of consequences in the woman’s body.
Relationships after the Pap smear: it depends on each woman
From what was stated in the previous section, we can conclude that the possibility of having intercourse after the Pap test depends on each woman. If everything goes normally, there are no contraindications; The patient can resume her normal life. However, it will be necessary to consult a doctor in the cases described above.
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