How Long Does It Take to Get Pap Smear Results

How And Why To Have A Pap Smear

It usually takes around two weeks for a doctor to get the results of a Pap smear back from the lab. It isn’t odd for the test results to take a week or two longer, but I would call after two weeks to check on the progress. When you are talking about cancer, it is important to learn as soon as possible. This is especially important with Pap smears, because a positive test results in another round of tests.

Who Is at Risk?

Cervical cancer in young women is related to sex practices and a few other activities. Therefore, doctors suggest that young women who are sexually active should have a pap smear every year. Women should have a pap smear by the age of 18, and sooner if they have had had sexual relations.

These tests should take place every year once sexual activities begin. After three such negative tests are taken, women can slack off and have a Pap smear every three years. Remember that we are talking about cancer, so you should take your doctor’s advice and have a periodic Pap test.

There are no hard and fast rules, of course. But factors which increase the risk of cervical cancer are sexual activity at an early age (the medical profession’s definition is 20), multiple sexual partners, contracting a sexually transmitted disease, having sex with a partner who has a sexually transmitted disease, smoking, using a birth control pill while have an HPV or giving birth while having an HPV.

What is a Pap Smear?

A Pap smear is an exam for cervical cancer and more minor health problems in women. This test should be administered in the years after a woman becomes sexually active.

Often, a Pap smear is given in conjunction with tests for sexually transmitted diseases. Pap smears have nothing to do with STDs, though.

What Is Involved?

Your doctor collects cells from your cervix with a plastic medical wand. This sounds worse than it is. Cramping may occur, because the process can take half a minute to a minute to perform. Most women don’t feel anything from the process.

After the cell sample is taken, it is sent to the lab for a technician to look at.

Possible Results

1. Negative

This is good. Your cervical cells are normal. You are given the clear signal for the next year. It is best for women to have a Pap test once a year, to monitor any changes in the cell makeup.

2. Unsatisfactory

This is an indeterminate and incomplete Pap test. For some reason, the lab is unable to get a good reading. You’ll have to repeat the test.

3. Positive Yet Benign

There are changes in the cells of your cervix, but these are benign changes. This usually occurs when you have an infection of some sort. The resulting inflammation of the cervical cells causes the test to have odd results. This is usually not serious, though you probably will need to take antibiotics for the infection.

4. Atypical Squamous Cells of Undetermined Significance

ASCUS tests are the concerning ones. The term “squamous” describes a cell which has suffered significant trauma. You need more tests to determine why this trauma has occurred. The likely test is an HPV DNA screening. HPV stands for “human papillomavirus”. This type of virus is indicative of certain types of cancer.


  1. FYI – squamous does not mean “a cell that has suffered a significant trauma. This is absolutely false. Squamous cells are located throughout the body and refer to cell “type,” not the trauma of a cell.

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