Is a Pap test alternative for an STI test?
A Pap test involves testing cells from the cervix for abnormalities. It helps to diagnose pre-cancerous conditions of cervical, vaginal cancer. The changes in the cells could be caused by HPV which is an STI. The test checks for abnormalities not whether you are exposed to HPV.
The diagnosis does not involve specifically looking for an STI. They look for the health of the tissue and if there are any conditions that should be treated.
Who should get tested?
Women aged between 21-65 should get a Pap test done once in 3 years. More frequent pap tests are recommended to women with risk factors such as a previous pap test which showed precancerous cells, history of smoking, weakened immune system due to chemotherapy or organ transplant.
How is it done ?
The test takes only a couple of minutes during which you will be asked to undress waist down. The doctor will insert an instrument called spatula and scrape a sample of cells from your cervix.
You might feel uncomfortable for a day after this procedure. Inform your doctor if it lasts for more than a day.