Having a pap smear test for the first time can bring a lot of questions than answers. It is a simple and reliable test and takes only a few minutes. It not just tells women about the risk of cervical cancer but also warns them about a number of gynecological issues. All women after commencing an active sexual life are recommended a Pap Smear Test once a year. It is the best way to know about a number of silent signs and symptoms and acts as a tool for early detection and timely treatment.
How to get prepared for a Pap Smear Test?
Make sure that you empty your bladder just before the test.
You will need to undress from the waist down, lie on the examination table and place your feet in the metal stirrups.
The gynecologist will gently insert a lubricated instrument (speculum) into the vagina which spreads the vagina open to visualize the cervix (mouth of the uterus) which forms the lower part of the womb.
Taking deep breaths in between will help you to relax your muscles and make the insertion of the speculum easy.
A small brush is taken to take samples from the walls of the cervix. This will take a few seconds only.
The material collected with the brush is transferred from the brush or spatula to the slide or in a liquid based container.
The slides are sent to a laboratory for testing where they are stained and examined under a microscope.
This procedure is called as cytological examination and detects the abnormal cells and finds out how much they have changed.
Once the samples are collected the speculum is removed and the feet are taken out of the stirrups and you can dress. The entire process takes up to five minutes.
What can you experience during and post a Pap Smear Test?
One can experience slight discomfort during the procedure.
Slight bleeding or discharge can occur after the procedure but it is for a short period only and stops quickly with no major side effects.
To have the most accurate results of pap smear one should schedule it after your periods once the bleeding has stopped.
Blood can interfere with the pap smear making the results less accurate. One should also avoid using vaginal tampons, douche, cream or lotion for about 48 hours before the procedure.
HPV DNA test is also done in a similar fashion. You can get it done simultaneously with your pap test (known as co-testing) or as advised by your gynecologist.