A pap test or a pap smear is a test that doctors use to determine whether a patient has cervical cancer. The doctor collects samples of cervical cells using a swab and then examines them for abnormalities. The primary abnormalities they check for are foreign growths and precancerous and cancerous cells.
The pap smear is a simple test that takes only a few minutes, but many women are usually anxious on their first visit. If you are going for your first pap test, here are some things you should know to prepare for one. Understanding what happens in the test may help you be less anxious.
Your first pap smear should happen when you turn 21 despite how active you are sexually. Nowadays, many young women are sexually active before they turn 21. Talk to your doctor if you are worried about pelvic pain, vaginal discharge, or sexually transmitted infections.
Usually, you can still get a successful pap smear during your period. But if you are uncomfortable getting the test during your period, it is best to reschedule.
There are several things you should avoid before your pap smear. They will often interfere with the results of the test. Two days before the test, you should avoid:
Douches and medicine
Taking care of your body will not affect the results of the test. So if you have any unique routines to make yourself comfortable in tense situations, you can have them. It would be best if you were as comfortable as possible for the test.
You must undress completely during a pap smear and wear a hospital gown.
If you are feeling too nervous about the test, you may request to have someone accompany you. The health care provider may also request a chaperone to stay with you during the test. You will lie on the examination table when you have the gown on. The health care professional will then perform a standard breast exam.
The health care professional will get a speculum tool and insert it gently into your vagina. It widens the vagina to give access so they can collect the cells they need. They collect the cells from your cervix using a soft brush. Usually, you will have your feet up on the stirrups of the table.
You may feel uncomfortable during the test, and you may feel some pressure in your vagina or abdomen. However, pain should not be one of the things you feel. Try breathing so you stay relaxed during this time.
The provider will also check your uterus and ovaries by inserting two gloved and lubricated fingers into your vagina. They will press gently on your lower abdomen for this part of the test.
For more on what to expect at your first pap smear, call Partners in Obstetrics & Women's Health at (815) 240-0554 for our New Lenox, Illinois office.