What is a pap smear? What actually happens during a Pap test?
Going to the gynecologist can be a scary thing if you don’t know what to expect. But once you know the info, it’s far less scary. And once you actually go, you’ll realize that it’s not scary at all.
After your doctor has checked your thyroid gland in your neck, listened to your lungs and heart, done a breast exam and an abdominal exam, he or she will have you remain laying down and then get ready to do your Pap smear.
The first step is to get you into position. There are stirrup-like foot rests on either side of the exam table that you will put your feet into. Your buttocks will need to be at the very edge of the exam table to do this. Your legs have to be spread apart for the exam. As weird as stirrups look, do your best to relax. The exam is much more comfortable if you’re relaxed.
Now that you’re in position, your doctor will first simply look at your external genitals to see if their appearance is normal. Then, a vaginal speculum (a devise designed to open the vagina) will be inserted into your vagina and opened. This will allow your doc to view the inside of the vagina and take a collection of cells from your cervix. This collection of cells is the actual Pap smear.
Most women have very little sensation in their cervix and don’t really feel their Pap smear being done. And even if you do feel it, it isn’t painful. After this, the speculum is closed and pulled out.
The cells collected from the Pap smear will be tested for any abnormalities. This test can help catch the problem cells that lead to cervical cancer.
After the Pap smear, two well lubricated fingers are inserted into your vagina while placing the opposite hand on your lower abdomen and pushing down. This enables the examiner to feel the shape and size of your uterus and to make sure there are no abnormalities on your ovaries and Fallopian tubes.
Once that’s over, that’s it! That’s your entire pelvic exam, Pap smear at all.
I suggest you make a point of telling your doctor that this is your first exam and ask him or her to let you know everything he or she is doing to do BEFORE it’s done. This is a totally normal request for a first timer to the gynecologist.