Preparing For Your Pap Exam

A pap exam, or pap smear, is a test that your OBGYN uses to help detect cancer and other potential problems with your reproductive system. This test is fairly quick and painless, but it helps if you are fully prepared so the process will go as smoothly as possible for you. Here is some helpful information so that you'll feel confident on the day of your pap exam.


When you schedule your pap test, it's important that you choose a date when you are not menstruating. This will make the process more sanitary for your doctor and will also make it easier for them to get a proper sample of cervical cells. Make sure you do not use a douche or have sexual intercourse at least two days before the exam. Be sure to shower the morning of your test so you'll feel confident. If you previously used a different OBGYN for your prior pap smear, bring their contact information with you in case your current doctor needs to contact them with any questions.

Patient History

Before the test is performed, your OBGYN will ask you a series of questions so they can get a better picture of your current situation and overall health. They will ask you questions like if you're currently sexually active, if you use any birth control, and if you've ever had any positive results from a previous pap smear. They will also ask you if you've been tested for STD's and if you've been experiencing regular periods. While these questions may be of a sensitive nature, it's important to answer them honestly so your OBGYN has a clear picture of your current lifestyle and health.

The Test Process

When it's time for your pap test your doctor will ask you to get undressed, usually only from the waist down. You will be covered with a gown and lie down on a table with your heels placed in stirrups. The doctor will use a tool called a speculum that helps to keep the walls of your cervix apart. Then, they will use a tool called a spatula to gently scrape the walls of your cervix in order to get some cell samples. These samples will be tested in order to determine if any of them could be cancerous. This test should be performed every three years unless your results come back as abnormal, in which case a biopsy may be needed.Go to website for more info.