Gynecologists (GYNs) perform many tests to diagnose problems within the female reproductive system; some are done yearly, others are done only if needed. Many diseases can be diagnosed by tests done in the gynecologist's office; most tests involve removing a small amount of tissue and sending it to the lab for testing.
Pap is short for Papanicolaou, the name of the man who designed the Pap smear test, which is done to look for abnormalities in cervical cells. The Pap test checks for inflammation, infection, precancerous and cancerous cells in the cervix by scraping cells off the top layer of the cervix. The procedure can't be done during a menstrual period; douching two to three days prior to the test or having sex 24 hours before the test should be avoided, the University of Rochester Medical Center states. Cells are sent to a laboratory for testing, which takes a few days to complete and report to your doctor. Pap tests are typically done every two to three years and may be discontinued in women over 65, nurse practitioner Robin Hardwicke reports.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Tests for many sexually transmitted diseases, or STDs, are done in the GYN office if you're concerned about having an infection or if the gynecologist sees any sign of infection during the pelvic exam. Vaginal fluid samples are taken with a swab and sent to a lab or examined under a microscope to test for chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes and trichomoniasis.
A cervical biopsy is done when abnormal cells are found during a pap test. A punch biopsy, which removes a piece of tissue from the cervix, can be done in the office; local anesthesia may be given into the cervix. Samples may be taken from several areas of the cervix, according to the University of Rochester Medical Center. Some bleeding may occur after the procedure; signs of infection such as fever or foul-smelling discharge should be reported to your doctor.
An endometrial biopsy is done to assess abnormal bleeding or to evaluate the uterine lining in cases of infertility. Endometrial biopsy involves removing a small piece of the uterine lining; no anesthesia is required, and the procedure takes just a few minutes. Slight bleeding and cramping are common after the procedure for a day or two.