As far as tests go, for a woman, it doesn’t get more invasive than your first Pap Smear. If you’ve never had one, you’re bound to be nervous about the experience. You can ask your doctor what its like, but most of us want to hear the finer, more intimate and personal stuff about the experience. The kind of things a lady friend will share. So in honour of Cervical Cancer Awareness Month (January), let’s talk about the good old pap and what you can expect for your first pap smear.
What is a Pap Smear/Test?
A Pap smear is used to screen women for cervical cancer. The process involves collecting cells from the cervix which is accessible through your vagina with the use of a tong looking device called a speculum. Research has shown that cervical cancer takes many years to develop, so doctors now recommend paps less regularly than a few years ago. (Yay, science!)
Who should do a Pap Smear?
The recommended age to begin Pap screenings is 21. However, if you’re sexually active, you should be getting your paps on the regular schedule, even if you are under 21. A woman should get a pap screening done every three years until the age of 65.
What to Expect?
1. The need to hide your undies
Never mind the fact that the doctor is about to see more of you than you could ever hope to see of yourself. You might find yourself with the urge to stick your undies in the leg of your pants so as to avoid detection. Maybe he/she (the doctor) doesn’t know you wear panties and we’re trying to throw them off track? Either way, it’s a perfectly normal thing to do, and between us women, it just makes… sense?
2. It’s not painless.
All the doctors advise that the procedure is painless. Tuh! I did not find that to be the case. Best case scenario, it is very uncomfortable. Think about it, a device is being inserted into your vagina in order to basically pry and keep it open so the doctor can reach your cervix. That not a ‘painless’ endeavour my friend. What is actually painless though, is the collection of cells which they so by brushing/scraping the cervix. That part feels fine. It’s a bit ticklish, but that’s all right.
3. You may have spotting and cramps afterwards
I wasn’t prepared for the cramping, which lasted a few hours after the procedure. If they are pretty bad, take some pain killers and you’ll be fine. There may also be some spotting and that’s considered normal. It may be heavier or not. It’ll possibly be more than a pantiliner can handle, but not so much you’ll need a maxi. So if you’re going to be doing other things after your procedure, you might want to keep some Ultra thins handy to stay comfortable and confident about what’s going on down under.
4. Your Gynae might talk to you during the procedure.
I understand most gynaecologist are quite experience by the time they get to you. Some of them may try and talk to your about the weather or how you are doing in general. As if being inches deep inside your vagina is the most natural thing in the world. Personally, I find the whole thing mortifying, but thinking about your answer to a question does help to stray your mind a bit from what’s really going on. But then, I suppose that is the actual point.
5. It’ll be over quickly
Despite the discomfort of it all, it’ll be our before you know it and you can be on your way. Done and done!
It not the most fun procedure, but it is very necessary, and if you have to throw your legs up in stirrups in either direction in front of a relative stranger (or two), preventing cancer seems a worthy cause, wouldn’t you say? I hope you ladies are getting your paps! How was the experience for you, or if you haven’t gotten one yet, are you feeling nervous about it?
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