What is a Pap smear?
[.highlighted] Q: Dear Teal, [.highlighted] I have not had a pap smear yet. What is it really?
A: A Pap smear is a screening method used to sample the cells of the cervix to test for changes that could indicate precancer or cancer of the cervix. Usually, this is due to an infection with a type of high-risk HPV.
Here’s what you can expect when you get a Pap smear: When you arrive at the doctor’s office, you’ll undress from the waist down and likely change into a gown. Your doctor or clinician will have you place your feet in stirrups and spread your legs. From there, they will use a speculum to hold the vaginal walls apart so the clinician can access your cervix. They will insert a cervical brush and you may feel pressure as they collect a sample. It’s not a comfortable process, but it shouldn’t take longer than a couple of minutes. After your exam, your clinician will insert the brush into a preservation solution and send it to a lab to look for changes in the cervical cells.
Learn more about Pap smears here.