If you’re here reading this, you probably know what a pap smear is and are obviously anxious about getting your first test done. Good for you, sis! However, if you are here and have no idea what a pap smear is, don’t worry — I got you! A pap smear is a routine examination done on a woman’s cervix, mainly to screen for cervical cancer and any other abnormalities. Most women usually worry about getting their first pap smear — which is understandable given the fact that you will be opening your legs to a stranger. Plus, you must have heard that something is inserted in your vagina during the examination, right? I can totally relate to your anxiety. Not to worry, though. It’s not as bad as you might think. Sure, your first time might be uncomfortable, but trust me, it gets better with time.
The pap smear test is recommended for women over the age of 25 with the test being performed every 3 years. For women over 50 years, the test is recommended every 5 years.
What to Expect for Your First Pap Test
During a standard pap smear, your gynaecologist will ask you to undress below the waist and lay down on an examination bed with a paper sheet placed over you. Once you are in position and comfortable, your feet will be bent in a 90- degree angle allowing your gynaecologist to insert a lubricated speculum slowly into your vagina. This will gently open the vagina allowing the gynaecologist to see your cervix.
Once your gynaecologist has a clear view of your cervix, he/she will take a quick swab using a soft brush to collect a sample of the cells to be tested in the laboratory.
The appointment should not take more than 20 minutes, with the actual procedure taking approximately 3 minutes. The remainder of your appointment will be dedicated to answering any questions or concerns you may have and your gynaecologist explaining the screening process.
After the test, you might feel mild discomfort from the scraping or a bit of cramping. You could also experience very light vaginal bleeding immediately following the test. Tell your doctor if discomfort or bleeding continues after the day of the test.
Depending on your health facility, you and your doctor can discuss the test results from the pap smear on the same day or a different day. Whatever the results may be, your doctor will best advice on the way forward.