Process for Your Well Woman Exam
Pap Test Process
Your nurse practitioner will perform a pelvic exam using an instrument called a speculum to examine your vagina and cervix. During this examination, a few cells will be collected directly from your cervix and the surrounding area, and then sent to a lab for further evaluation.
Frequency of Pap Tests
The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) recommends that sexually active females younger than age 21 be counseled and tested for sexually transmitted infections, and be counseled regarding safe sex and contraception. The Pap test is not recommended for those younger than 21 (and not sexually active) because it may lead to unnecessary evaluation and treatment in women at very low risk of cancer. Women age 21 should start getting regular Pap tests no fewer than every three years or as directed by their primary care physician.
Screening for Sexually Transmitted Infections
During the exam, your cervix and vaginal tissue will be examined for any abnormal discharge or bumps. A Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) screening, which includes tests for gonorrhea and chlamydia, is performed when requested for a fee. All sexually active women are encouraged to be screened for STIs if they have had a new sexual partner since their last exam or are not in a mutually monogamous sexual relationship.
STI screening is simple and consists of taking a small amount of cervical discharge with a swab, or through urine testing. Like the Pap test, STI testing will also be sent to a laboratory for evaluation. Most results are back within two weeks. The University Clinic will contact you with your results. You should contact us if you do not hear from us within two weeks of your testing.
You will be notified of your Pap test result during the course of a follow-up visit (an appointment (that you will need to make) that is usually one to two weeks from the time of testing). If the results are abnormal, your health care provider will recommend follow-up testing sooner than every three years. Abnormal results may occur for many reasons. Most Pap test abnormalities occur due to HPV infection. In the majority of women, this virus resolves without treatment within one to three years. In certain cases, a colposcopy may be recommended. A colposcopy is a simple office procedure which allows for a magnified view of the cervix. You will be referred to a gynecologist for this procedure as diagnosed.
In addition to routine check-ups or to obtain contraception information, the clinic invites you to schedule an appointment for any of the following symptoms, regardless of your age or the time of occurrence (call 325-942-2171 immediately for an appointment):
- Abnormal or heavy vaginal discharges that itch, burn, have an odor or cause you discomfort.
- Heavy vaginal bleeding, missed monthly periods or irregular menstrual cycles.
- Bleeding between periods, spotting or breakthrough bleeding
- Painful sexual intercourse.
- Menstrual cramps causing you to miss school or work
- Any signs of pregnancy.
- Side effects or problems with your birth control method.
- Breast pains, lumps or discharges from the nipple.