What Does a Pap Smear Test For?

It’s always dangerous to make assumptions –– particularly in regard to your well-being. The bad news is, many women do wrongly assume that pap smears and pelvic exams act as STD tests. Indeed, though pap smears are important, they’re not comprehensive in terms of detecting STDs. So just because you’ve recently had a pap smear with normal results, that doesn’t mean you’re STD-free. Today, we’ll aim to clear up some confusion surrounding pap smears and other wellness exams. Plus, we’ll tackle the question once and for all, what does a pap smear test for?

Pap Smear 101

In short, pap smear tests aim to identify cervical cancer in its earliest stages. Doctors take samples from the cervix during a pap smear and later test the cells for cancer. In addition, HPV has been linked to cervical cancer. Still, doctors won’t typically conduct an STD test while performing a pap smear or wellness exam. Rather, if your doctor notices outward symptoms of a possible STD –– such as genital warts, for instance –– they may recommend you seek STD-specific testing.

Pap Smears & STD Tests

It’s unwise for sexually active women to rely on pap smear tests as their only means of ensuring their sexual wellness. Yes, pap smears are important, but they’re not intended to identify STDs. What’s more, no visual examination of the genitals –– no matter how thorough –– will prove definitive in regard to STDs. Many STDs remain asymptomatic for long stretches of time, and the only way to know if you have one is to get tested for it. In most instances, STD testing is not a part of pap smear tests or wellness exams. You can request your doctor to administer an STD test in addition to a pap smear, though that request is often more fraught with complications than most people realize.

How Often Should I Get Tested?

Most women only receive a pap smear once every few years. However, all sexually active individuals need to receive STD tests regularly. Any time you engage in a sexual act, particularly with a new partner or without using a condom, you put yourself at risk for STD transmission. At the end of the day, how often you should get tested for STDs depends on you. But waiting to get tested for STDs is a dangerous game and can result in some gruesome consequences and worst-case-scenarios.

A Word from Same Day STD Testing

At Same Day, we understand how difficult it can be to think about –– let alone discuss –– STDs, cervical cancer, and other sensitive issues. That’s why we’ve worked to create testing facilities that are centered around privacy and discretion. When you visit one of our clinics, you won’t have to deal with long lines, embarrassing questions, or put your test results on your insurance record. Find a center near you or else call us here at 844-394-8520. We’re ready to answer your questions and help you protect your sexual wellness today!

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