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What's a Pap smear?


 
I know I don’t need one yet, but I heard my mom mention Pap smears the other day and I was wondering what exactly it was for.

 

It’s good to be curious about things that affect your body, but you’re right babe, you definitely don’t need a Pap smear yet. Doctors recommend young women begin getting Pap smears during their annual pelvic exams once they turn 21.

 

But just FYI… a Pap smear or a Pap test checks for changes in the cells of your cervix. The results can tell your doc all sorts of things, like if you have an infection, unhealthy cervical cells or (yikes!) cervical cancer. The point of the test is to head off minor and major problems before they become super-serious. Docs say that Pap smears are your best bet when it comes to preventing cervical cancer and catching it early, so they’re a definite “do” once you hit your 20s. Some women find the test a little bit uncomfortable, but it’s painless, so don’t worry babe.

 

Fun fact: It’s called a “Pap test” because it was developed by the Greek doctor Georgios Papanikolaou.

BY BRITTANY TAYLOR ON 4/16/2011 8:00:00 AM

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