The Pap test, also called a Pap smear, is one of the most important tests you can have, because it can show changes (sometimes called “precancerous changes”) in your cervix that can lead to cervical cancer if not treated. If every woman had a Pap test regularly, most cervical cancer could be prevented. In a Pap test, which is quick and painless, a few cells are removed from your cervix, the narrow tube that connects the uterus above and the vagina below. When you have a Pap test, most of the time you’ll also have a pelvic exam, in which your uterus, ovaries, vagina, fallopian tubes (which connect your ovaries to your uterus), and rectum are examined to make sure they’re healthy. Women 18 and older should have a Pap test and pelvic exam every year. Girls under 18 who are having sex should too.
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