It’s totally normal to be a little nervous for your first pap smear, especially if you don’t know what to expect. Here we’re walking you through this quick, painless procedure so you’ll know exactly what’s in store for your first pap smear.
What happens during my first pap smear?
A pap smear always follows the same procedure, whether it’s your first or fifteenth! The good news is that it only takes a couple of minutes, and it shouldn’t be painful.
Your doctor, gynae or nurse will ask you to remove your clothes, and you’ll be given a gown to wear, or a blanket or sheet to cover yourself with.
Next, you’ll be asked to hop onto the bed and lie back. This is the point at which you might start to feel a little anxious, but try to remain calm. The more relaxed you are, the easier the test will be.
Once you’re comfortable, you’ll be asked to bend your knees so that an instrument called a speculum can be inserted into your vagina. The doctor may apply a lubricant to it so it slides in easily. The speculum holds the walls of your vagina open so the doctor has a clear view and proper access to your cervix.
The key here is not to be embarrassed. It might feel super awkward to have someone prodding around down there, but remember that this is a very normal part of a gynae or nurse’s job, and a procedure they perform all the time. Most women, after all, regularly have pap smears.
Once the speculum is in place, a swab is taken of the cervix using a little brush or spatula-type device. This part may feel a little strange, but it shouldn’t be painful, and it only takes a moment to collect the necessary cells. The doctor or nurse will then remove the speculum and you can get dressed.
Do I need to have a pap smear? Why?
Yes, if you’re a woman of 21 years of age or older, you should have regular pap smears. The reason is that pap smears can help detect life-threatening cervical cancer, and remove any abnormal cells from your body before they become cancerous and difficult or impossible to treat.
Book your pap smear appointment online now
You can pop into your nearest Marie Stopes centre for a pap smear, as well as contraceptive advice, HIV and STI screening, and complete women’s wellness check-ups. You’ll always be given confidential treatment in a friendly, warm and caring environment. Best of all, you can even make your appointment online via our site – it’s so easy!