What is a Pap smear?
A Pap test, commonly referred to as the Pap smear, is a medical procedure that screens for cancers or precancerous cells in the cervix. Cells collected from the cervix with a mascara-like brush or swab are spread (smeared) on a microscope slide for lab examination.
Why do I need a Pap smear?
Getting a Pap smear can save your life as it finds abnormal, cancerous cells. When caught early, successful treatment of cervical cancer is high. A Pap test “can also detect changes in your cervical cells that suggest cancer may develop in the future.” Cervical cancer is a preventable disease. Mayo Clinic
Who needs them?
Pap smear screening usually begins at age 21 or within 3 years of becoming sexually active. Most women over 30, who have had normal test results can be screened less often than yearly. Women 60-70 years old, who have had regular pap smear results may forgo screening. Medicine Net
Rookie Tips on getting a Pap smear
Breathe. Feeling nervous about the exam is totally normal. Taking deep breaths before and during the Pap test can put you at ease and help the procedure go smoothly.
Relax. Stressing over the Pap smear is no bueno. Being tense will cause you do squeeze those muscles in your vagina making the process traumatizing. When you are relaxed, the doctor can quickly do what they need to do with minimized pain/discomfort.
Eyes open vs. closed. This is a personal choice. During my Pap smear I focused on a spot on the ceiling. Some people prefer to keep their eyes closed. Do whatever makes you feel comfortable.
Talking. Again, this is whatever makes you feel comfortable. For some people talking is a distraction. Don’t be afraid to make small talk with your doctor if that helps you get through the test. For me, I worked on breathing deeply.
Doctor choice. It is important that you are comfortable with your doctor; after all, you are in a pretty compromising position. When you feel at ease with your physician, you are more likely to relax.
Research. My first Pap test was traumatizing because I didn’t know what to expect. My second time around went smoothly (no screaming and hysterics involved) because I knew what to expect and had done reading about the exam the night before.
Experiences. To put your fears to rest, talk to other women who are close to you. Hearing from others will put the examination into prospective. Remember, almost half of the world’s population are women. Thus, you will not be the first, nor the last, to get a pap smear.
To hear about my experience please click here
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