Pap smears can be a terrifying thing, especially if you have never had one. I put off going to the gynecologist for way too long, but finally took care of the situation and went. If you are terrified of your pap smear appointment, here are some things you need to know.
Why You Need a Pap Smear
Pap smears are the first line of defense against cervical cancer. It can detect abnormal cells or HPV which can lead to a higher risk of cervical cancer. The earlier you get one done, it can help you with peace of mind, or it can start necessary treatments ASAP.
From the age of 21 to 65, you should be tested every three years, sometimes you can go for five years, and sometimes you will have to come back the very next year. If you have a history of cervical cancer, you may want to get tested more often if necessary.
What to Expect At The Gynecologist
Don’t get me wrong, I was terrified at my first pap smear. I made myself sick with worry, and I cried way more than anyone ever should. Once I was there, I did the usual urine test, answering questions, and sent into my room.
After a few minutes, the midwife came in and explained everything that would happen. She showed me the tools, told me what she was going to do, and answered any questions I had. I changed into my clothes and hopped up on the table after she left.
They will typically start with a breast exam to detect any lumps. Next, the pap smear process will begin. The worst part is when they place the speculum into your vagina, but it is a very slight pressure that goes away. They will then take a plastic tool and scrape your cervix to collect some cells. This feels slightly uncomfortable, but it doesn’t hurt at all.
Your doctor, nurse, or midwife may also insert their fingers into your vagina in order to check your reproductive organs. After that, you are all finished. The entire process takes maybe ten minutes.
How to Prepare For Your Pap Smear
You really don’t have to do anything in order to prepare for a pap smear. You can choose to shave the area if you want to, but I promise you they do not care. They see vaginas of all shapes, sizes, colors, and hair density every day. If you have an odor that you are worried about, not only does it not matter to them, but it may be a great time to ask about it!
Pap smears are not as bad as they seem, and I think they have a worse reputation than they deserve. As someone who put this off for years, it is something that I should have done previously. Places such as Planned Parenthood or your local health department offer low-cost or free pap smears if you do not have insurance, so there is no excuse! You can find out more information about where to get a pap smear here!