A Pap Smear is a test that is usually performed yearly after a woman turns 21 or becomes sexually active. The test is a simple, quick collection of cells. While a Pap Smear is not a diagnostic test for cervical cancer, it can detect any abnormalities which can then lead to further testing.
What to expect during a Pap Smear
At the start of the exam, you will be asked to remove your clothing from the waist down. You will be given a medical gown and a half sheet to cover your lap. At the medical center office, there is an examination chair with stirrups at the end for your feet. You will position yourself in the chair, with your feet in the stirrups, so that you can be examined. An instrument, called a speculum, is lubricated and inserted into the vagina. This tool allows the doctor to have a clear path to the cervix. It is important to remember to relax and breath. This will relax the muscles of the vagina and allow for an easier examination by the medical professional.
After the speculum is inserted, a tiny, thin bristle brush is used to collect some tissue from the back of the cervix. Most women do not feel anything besides a light sensation when this is performed while some experience a feeling similar to menstrual cramps. From here, the medical professional places the sample in a small tube to be sent off to a laboratory for testing. The speculum is removed and the Pap Smear is over. A Pap Smear procedure only takes a few minutes to complete. After the Pap Smear is completed you can get dressed and conclude your medical examination.