Pap smears are recommended every 2-3 years for women starting at age 21. If you’re over 30, have never had an abnormal Pap smear, and are in a monogamous relationship, you can consider having a Pap smear every 3-5 years. The recommended frequency of a Pap smear may depend on several factors and patients should consult their doctor.
It generally takes 2-3 weeks to get results from a Pap smear. You will receive a phone call informing you of the Pap smear results. If you do not receive a call within 4 weeks, please call the office to follow-up.
Most abnormalities on Pap smears are caused by the human Papilloma virus, or HPV. This is sexually transmitted. It is very common, half of all women who are sexually active have the virus at some point in their lives. Different strains of the virus cause genital warts or precancerous changes. If you have a precancerous change on your cervix, you will probably have a colposcopy done. This is an office procedure where we look at your cervix with a microscope to see if any areas look abnormal. If we see abnormalities we will do a biopsy (take a small piece of tissue). The pathologist then confirms that there is an abnormality.
Frequently your body will heal itself, and we keep a close eye on your Pap smear tests until you have had several normal Pap smears in a row. Sometimes we will need to do a LEEP procedure, which is done in the hospital. This removes the area that is prone to cancerous changes. After a LEEP procedure you will need to have frequent Pap smears for about two years.
Fibroids are very common growths that many women develop in their uterus. They are not cancerous. They can cause heavy bleeding or pelvic pain, but most women don’t even know they have them. They grow during a woman’s reproductive years and may shrink when she goes into menopause.
Symptoms caused by fibroids can be controlled with medications such as oral contraceptives or anti-inflammatory medications. Sometimes we give medication that will shrink the fibroids for a short period of time. Sometimes a radiologist will perform a uterine artery embolization, and clot off the blood vessels that feed the uterus and fibroids. This will shrink the fibroids, but may cause pain. If the symptoms cannot be controlled by medication, we may recommend removing the fibroids or removing the uterus if you don’t plan on having any more children.
Yes. Even if you don’t have a uterus anymore, the check-up with the gynecologist includes more than just a Pap smear. We also do your breast exam as well as a general physical. Plus, we look for other kinds of cancers that can develop, such as cancer of the vagina or ovaries.
Hoffman and Associates is an all-female OB-GYN doctor group with offices in Baltimore, Catonsville and Dundalk, Maryland. Led by Dr. Terry Hoffman, and in affiliation with Mercy Medical Center, our obstetricians and gynecologists offer an individualized approach to obstetrics, gynecology and menopause which allows us to provide women with top quality and compassionate medical care.
Tracie Cox, CNM, is a certified nurse midwife with the all-female Obstetrics and Gynecology group practice, Hoffman and Associates.