By age 21, ALL women need a Pap test to check for cervical cancer. Talk to a Doctor.

By age 21, ALL women need a Pap test to check for cervical cancer. Talk to a Doctor.

Cervical cancer is caused by the HPV virus. Over 50% of all people in the US who are sexually active will be exposed to the HPV virus. Each year, about 12,000 women get cervical cancer in the U.S. By getting a pap test, your health care provider will know if you are at risk for cervical cancer, and can get you treatment early on.

So what is a pap test? A pap test is when a clinician checks for abnormal cells inside a woman. The clinician will have you lie on your back and use an instrument that looks like a duck bill to open up the vulva and vagina, making enough room to insert a thin q-tip like device. You might feel a little bit of cramping, but remember to breathe slowly and calmly as that will relax your body and make it go faster. The device will collect cells by wiping a few cells off the cervix.

It takes less than one minute typically. After that, the clinician will have the cells tested for abnormalities. It can feel a bit awkward and embarrassing, but it’s totally worth it to know your status.

Want more info and some common questions answered? Check out Planned Parenthood’s page on pap tests.