February 2016
How important is my Pap Smear?

A pap smear is a test that detects abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix. Having abnormal cells does not mean that cancer is present but they can be warning signs that indicate cells' potential for becoming cancerous. This way, it's possible to stop cancer before it starts or before it gains a foothold in the body.

During a Pap Smear, the provider uses a brush to collect a sample of cells from the canal and the outside of the cervix. This sample is sent to a lab where it will receive a rating determined by the types of cells that are found. Based on the rating of your sample, your physician will decide what treatment or further testing, if any, is needed.

Cervical cancer is one of the most common cancers in women. However, according to the American Cancer Society, with early detection, cervical cancer is also one of the most successfully treatable cancers. 1

The original Pap smear, after gaining widespread physician use, was credited with a 60-70% reduction in mortality rates from cervical cancer due to the early detection. In the late nineties, liquid-based cytology became available, proving in studies to be able to detect more changes and reduce false negatives (a normal pap smear result when there is really a problem) by 50%. 2,3,4

Each woman's medical history may put her at a different level of risk and your doctor can determine the frequency of screening that you will need. It is very important to note that Pap Smears are just a part of your Well Woman Exam. Even if it has been determined that your history of normal pap smears no longer requires you to be tested or tested with less frequency, there are many other benefits that are gained from your yearly exam.
  1. "Cervical Cancer." Cervical Cancer. American Cancer Society. Web. 25 Jan. 2016. <http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cervicalcancer/>.
  2. Linder, James, and David Zahniser. "Thin Prep Papanicolaou Testing to Reduce False-Negative Cervical Cytology." Archives of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine 122.2 (1998): 139-44. ProQuest. Web.
  3. Cramer, Barb. "New Pap smear provides more accurate test results". Vanderbilt University Medical Center's Weekly Newspaper (2000). Web.
  4. Karimi-Zarchi, Mojgan et al. "A Comparison of 3 Ways of Conventional Pap Smear, Liquid-Based Cytology and Colposcopy vs Cervical Biopsy for Early Diagnosis of Premalignant Lesions or Cervical Cancer in Women with Abnormal Conventional Pap Test." International Journal of Biomedical Science: IJBS 9.4 (2013): 205-210. 

Lo ve  Bugs

Tis the season of romance! Chocolates, love notes, secret admirers, and proposals abound. And like smoke and fire, where there is romance there may also be seduction. Safe sex education initiatives have been around long enough that many may roll their eyes and sigh "I know! I know!" But, despite being at risk for sounding like a broken record, we must cover this subject once again. Around 20 million new infections occur each year in the United States. The CDC estimates the yearly healthcare cost for the treatment of the most common 8 STDs to be around 16 billion dollars! 1

Many STDs do not carry alarming symptoms and an infected individual may not realize that they are a carrier. All forms take time to manifest physically if they manifest at all. This is especially true with men. A man may pass an infection to partners for a long period of time before being made aware that he needs treatment.

The most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States is HPV (human papillomavirus), but the most commonly reported infection is chlamydia. 2 The reason for this discrepancy is because it can take years for HPV symptoms to arise making it difficult for someone to know they've been infected and where the infection came from. It is so common that it is estimated that most women will contract HPV at some point in their lives. Certain types of HPV can affect, not only the genitals, but the mouth and throat as well. Sexually transmitted infections can be spread regardless of whether symptoms are present. Untreated, women may develop Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) which is linked to the development of gynecological cancers and/or infertility. 2

Untreated STDs are especially dangerous for pregnant women. These types of infections are known to cause miscarriage, preterm birth, birth defects, stillbirth, and may be passed to the baby during the pregnancy or birthing process.

Most STDs can be cured, but there are several that are lifelong. Protect your health and the health of your partner. Always use condoms to prevent the spread of infections and don't hesitate to let your doctor know if you have new or multiple sexual partners so that the appropriate tests can be performed. 

Never let embarrassment or shyness prevent 
you  from communicating honestly. 

Those of us in reproductive healthcare have heard it all and your health is our highest priority.

For more information on this and other sexual health matters visit: 

  1. CDC. "Incidence, Prevalence, and Cost of Sexually Transmitted Infections in the United States". CDC Fact Sheet (2013): 1-4. Web.
  2. "2014 Sexually Transmitted Diseases Surveillance." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2015. Web. 25 Jan. 2016. <http://www.cdc.gov/std/stats14/chlamydia.htm>.

Many historians believe Valentine's Day has origins in the ancient Roman festival Lupercalia, celebrated February 13th-15th which is thought to have originated around the 5th Century BC. From what scholars can tell, a grand feast would ensue at its beginning and thereafter anointed young men armed with strips of hide cut from sacrificial animals would chase people naked around a hillside attempting to strike them. This is believed to have been a ceremony to ensure fertility; if you were struck, you were rendered fertile. 

It's hard to narrow down which Saint Valentine is responsible for the holiday's name as the Catholic Church recognizes about a dozen of them including one Pope. However, it's believed to be Saint Valentine of Rome who was martyred around A.D. 270. No one seems to know why he's the patron saint of lovers, engaged couples, and happy marriages as well as beekeepers, epileptics, and travelers. Relatively nothing is actually known about him.

Cupid, also known as Eros, is a god in classical mythology. Said to have been the child of Venus the goddess of love and Mars the god of war (ironic, huh?), he is the god of erotic love and desire, attraction, and affection. Those shot with his potent arrow are said to be filled with overwhelming desire.

Mary C Kirk, MD, PLLC
6465 South Yale, Ste 605
Tulsa, OK  74136