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Women's Health

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Pap Test


There is very little chance of a problem from having a Pap test. You may have a small amount of vaginal bleeding after this test. And you may want to use a pad or panty liner to protect your clothes from any spotting.


A Pap test is done to look for changes in the cells of the cervix camera.gif. Results are usually available in 1 to 2 weeks. Ask your doctor when you can expect the results.

Classification systems

In the United States, the Bethesda system (TBS) is the most widely used system for reporting Pap test results. It provides information about the quality of the cell sample and the types of cell changes found.


The sample contained enough cells and no abnormal cells were found.


The sample did not contain enough cells, or abnormal cells were found. To learn more about abnormal Pap test results, see the topic Abnormal Pap Test.

What Affects the Test

Pap test results may be affected by:

  • Menstrual blood on the slide. This can make it harder to examine the cervical cells.
  • A vaginal infection.
  • The use of douches or vaginal creams or preparations within 24 hours of the exam.
  • Not enough cells in the sample.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: 2/, 014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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