What is a Pap smear?
A Pap smear is a screening test for cervical cancer. It is not a diagnostic test, so having the test done regularly is very important. A Pap smear identifies women who may be at high risk for having precancerous or cancerous cervical changes.
What to expect during the Pap smear?
First, you will be asked to undress from the waist down. You will be given a drape sheet to place over your mid-section and upper thighs.
Next, you will be asked to lay on the exam table and place your feet in stirrups, to hold your feet in place during examination. Stirrups are usually cold, so you want to bring a pair of socks to wear.
A lubricated speculum will then be inserted into the vagina. Remember to take deep breaths and to relax, this will also help the vaginal muscle to relax, making the exam less uncomfortable. Using a small broom-like brush, the doctor will take sample cells from the cervix. this is done by very gently rubbing of the cervix with the brush. Some women have no sensation when this is done, while some experience mild discomfort.The sample is then placed in a tube with a special preservative or a slide and then sent to a lab for processing. After the sample is taken, the speculum is gently removed from the vagina. You are then able to sit up and begin dressing. The Pap smear is over!!
Before leaving, your doctor will give you an appointment in about 1-2 weeks to return for your Pap smear results. Be sure to ask your doctor how often you should have a Pap smear done, since it varies from woman to woman, based on age, health, and previous Pap smear results.