Why Regular Cervical Screenings Are Essential

Jan 04, 2024
Why Regular Cervical Screenings Are Essential
Cervical screenings are an important preventive tool in women’s health care. Find out why you should make sure to get one regularly.

A cervical screening — essentially an updated version of a Pap test or a Pap smear — is a procedure that checks for changes in your cervix and tests for signs of cervical cancer. 

If you’re over the age of 25, you should receive one of these cervical screenings every 3-5 years as long as you don’t have any health concerns that warrant getting them more frequently.

At Primrose Women’s Health in Dayton, Ohio, our team of women’s health specialists, led by Carrie Cogley, APRN, offers cervical screenings as part of our gynecologic care. These tests are a vital portion of women’s health care, and 90% of cervical cancer cases are prevented through this all-too-important screening. 

Take a moment as we discuss why getting them regularly is so vital and what to expect when you come in for one.

Understanding cervical screenings

Your cervix is the opening to your uterus. When you have a cervical screening, cells from your cervix are gently scraped away and examined for any abnormal growths, such as precancerous or cancerous cells. 

In addition, we test for the human papillomavirus (HPV), a virus that causes warts and increases your risk for cervical cancer. 

Cervical cancer notoriously doesn’t present with noticeable symptoms, so when you come in for regular cervical screenings, it greatly increases our ability to catch anything abnormal early. 

If the cancerous cells — or cells that may become cancerous — are detected early, the cancer becomes significantly easier to treat.

What to expect during a cervical screening

You can schedule a cervical screening as part of your annual women’s wellness visit, but feel free to set one up at any time outside of those yearly trips to see us. 

If you’re more than 24 weeks pregnant or menstruating, you want to reschedule your cervical screening since it could be more painful and the test results may not be very accurate.

The screening process takes about 10-20 minutes. You start by lying on your back with your feet placed in stirrups. You then spread your legs apart so we can place a speculum into your vagina. This allows us to widen the vaginal walls and gives us a clear view into your cervix.

Next, we use a swab to collect cells from your cervix and place them in a liquid substance. The swab goes off to the lab for review. While the procedure shouldn’t be painful, you may feel pressure for a very short amount of time.

Your cervical screening results

About a week after your test, you should receive the results, which come back as normal, abnormal, or inconclusive. Most of the time, the result is normal, or negative, meaning that you don’t have to worry about another test for a few more years.

If you get an abnormal or inconclusive reading, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have cervical cancer. Your cervix may be inflamed, or you might have an infection. Our team orders follow-up tests to help us investigate further.

If it’s been quite some time since you’ve had a cervical screening, we highly recommend arranging one as soon as possible. To set one up with our team, call our office at 937-345-0009 or schedule your appointment online today.