I had my very first Pap smear today.
“A Pap smear, also called a Pap test, is a procedure to test for cervical cancer in women. A Pap smear involves collecting cells from your cervix — the lower, narrow end of your uterus that’s at the top of your vagina.” Courtesy of mayoclinic.org
Pap smears are important because they test for cervical cancer. Detecting cervical cancer early give you a greater change at a cure. A Pap smear can also detect changes in your cervical cells which can potentially develop into cancer in the future.
So let me tell you a little bit about my experience. I currently do not have insurance and my family has always struggled with money so I take full advantage of all the things Planned Parenthood has to offer.(Maybe I’ll write another entry solely on Planned Parenthood and their services) One of those services is a free Pap smear.
I went into this appointment not really knowing what a Pap smear was or what it was for. Honestly, all I knew what that there was going to be some random doctors fingers in my vagina. So naturally I was kind of nervous.
At first everything was like a normal doctors visit. Blood pressure: check, weight: check, temperature: check. All normal. Then I was asked to take my clothes off and put on a paper gown. Usually when you have to put on a paper gown you get to keep on either your underwear or bra. Not this time. They wanted me completely naked.
I underdressed and sat on the exam table waiting for the doctor to return. At this point I was getting nervous. I mean, I do not mind being naked but having some stranger look around in my vagina while I lie there helpless just does not seem like a good time to me. But it honestly was not bad at all.
My doctor was extremely personable and knowledgeable. She made me feel comfortable. She first listened to my heartbeat and checked my lungs. Just some simple routine stuff. She then asked me to lie down with my hands behind my head. She started feeling my breast for lumps and was constantly telling me everything she was doing and informing me on how to do self exams at home. (Side note: you should be checking your breasts, both men and women, daily for lumps, odd discoloration, or sensitivity. Lumps can happen during menstruation for women so ride our your period and if the lumps do not go away after go see your doctor right away ladies.)
I was then directed to place my feet in stirrups with half of my butt hanging off of the exam table so that the doctor could get a good view. She check the outside of my vagina for inflamed lymph nodes; all clear. Your lymph nodes are located on the side of each of your vaginal lips. Right where your thighs and vagina meet.
She then proceeded to check inside my vagina: once again all clear. This is the part that most people find uncomfortable. She inserted a speculum into my vagina and opened it up. The speculum is not wider than the average sized penis so there was not any discomfort, just pressure. She warned me that I would feel a lot of pressure and possibly even cramping when she inserted the brush to take a swab of my cervix tissue. Honestly, I felt a lot of pressure but it was very quick so there was no discomfort.
She then removed the speculum and inserted one or two fingers into my vagina and felt my cervix. She used one hand to feel my cervix from inside my vagina and the other on top of my lower stomach/vagina.
And then, I was done.
It was as simple as that. She said I would get my test results in about a week and they would let me know if I was all clear of cancer/potential cancer.
The doctor also informed me that Pap smears should be given every three years started at the age of 21.
Having someone feel around in your vaginal can be a bit strange and uncomfortable but it is honestly worth it. I would rather be uncomfortable for 10 minutes and know that I am cancer free than be uncomfortable for years during chemotherapy.
So ladies, go get a Pap asap!