Ladies, here's what to expect on your first pap smear

Why sexually active ladies should get a pap smear

What to expect on your first pap smear (AARP)

A lot of women have never had a pap smear. It’s necessary to get one. The purpose of a pap smear is to screen for any abnormal activity in your cervix. The doctor will perform a pap test, also known as a pelvic examination to determine the health of your female organs – uterus, cervix, ovaries etc., the test helps rule out whether you have cervical cancer or any other abnormalities, and if you have HPV which is a virus that’s sexually transmitted and causes cervical cancer. How often do you need a pap smear? You might be wondering. If you’re 21 and below and not really sexually active, there may be no need for one; however, for those 21 and below and sexually active, it’s necessary to get a pap smear every three years. Yes, even teenagers. If you’re 21-29, also get one every 3 years and those 30-65, get every 3-5 years if your pap smear and HPV results are negative. Women over 65 no longer need pap smear tests especially if previous results have come out negative. Now that we have that out of the way, let’s comb through what to expect on your first pap smear.

1. You will be seeing an OBGYN.

This is a term used to refer to someone who delivers babies and doubles up as a gynecologist. They may ask you some questions and may even ask you to fill a form which you should fill truthfully, so that they can be able to assist you accordingly.

2. The doctor may take your weight, blood pressure and ask when your last menstruation was.

This is just a necessary step that doctors take before examining you. At this point, it’s necessary to let your doctor know if you’re on your period prior to so as to schedule the test. Also, avoid sexual intercourse the day before you go for a pap smear or douching before the test as this could affect the results.

3. You will be asked to take off all your clothes and wear a hospital gown that will be given to you.

The doctor will give you privacy to change and will come back when you’re ready. You will be asked to lay on the bed and spread your legs. Don’t worry about your unshaved legs, unshaved vagina, how it looks and what not. The doctors have seen it all and they will not judge you. Just make sure you have at least showered that morning to keep that area clean. The doctor may have a nurse to assist so don't worry if there are two people in the room. Simply lay on your back, take deep breaths and relax.

4. Your doctor will then insert a device into your vagina.

This device is called a speculum and what it does is open you up so that your doctor can be able to collect some cells from the opening of your cervix, using a spatula as well as brush around the cervix with a swab. These two will be put in a liquid and will be taken to the lab for testing. While the doctor is inserting the speculum, you need to be well relaxed so that you do not feel pain during the insertion – it may feel a little uncomfortable but it’s very quick. Afterwards, the doctor will do a bimanual exam which is where he/she will place one hand on your belly and the other will go into your vagina (fingers) to feel the uterus and the ovaries just to check for abnormalities, like feeling for ovarian cysts etc.

5. Basically, once the doctor has done that, it will be over.

You will have some privacy to put on back your clothes and be told to come back a few hours later for the test results, which will be explained to you in detail by the doctor.

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