Does pap smear hurt? 10 facts to know the procedure better

September is considered to be Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month, and one of the leading causes of cancer in women is cervical cancer, which is diagnosed with a pap smear test.

Around the world, many women go through the test, which has a reputation of being a tad painful. How does it happen, why is it important and how painful is it? Dr Kavya Krishnakumar, consultant obstetrics and gynaecology at Motherhood Hospital, Chennai answers these and other such questions. Read on.

1. Are they painful?

Pap smears aren’t painful. But sometimes, you can have a mild and uncomfortable feeling. People frequently describe it as a small pinch, but everyone’s pain threshold is different.

2. Why are they done?

Pap smears are used to determine whether your cervical cells are normal. If you do have abnormal cells, your provider may run additional tests to see if the cells are cancerous. If necessary, you will be advised to destroy the abnormal cells and lower your risk of cervical cancer.

3. Is it common to bleed after a pap smear?

Yes. While it does not happen to everyone, bleeding after a pap smear is not uncommon. It is frequently caused by a small scratch or scrape on your cervix or in your vagina. The bleeding is usually light and should stop within a day. Contact your provider if the bleeding becomes heavier or lasts for more than three days.

4. Is a pap smear the same as a pelvic test?

A pap smear is not the same as a pelvic exam, though doctors frequently perform it during pelvic exams. The reproductive organs, including the vagina, vulva, cervix, ovaries, and uterus, are examined during a pelvic exam. Your doctor will examine your vulva and vaginal opening for unusual discharge, redness, or other irritation.

A doctor or nurse can perform a pap smear by first asking you about your medical history. (Photo: Getty/Thinkstock)

5. Is it necessary?

Usually, yes. Pap smears can detect precancerous cells on your cervix and thus aid in the prevention of cervical cancer. Although cervical cancer is frequently caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is transmitted through genital or anal contact, you should have routine pap smears, ideally after being sexually active.

6. How frequently do I need one?

It should be done every three years for people above 21, and those aged 30 to 65 should have it every five years along with an HPV test. The act of performing both tests at the same time is referred to as co-testing. People with HIV or who have weakened immune systems should have pap smears more frequently. Your doctor will make a recommendation for specific testing.

7. What if my appointment falls during my menstrual cycle?

Having a pap smear during your period can have an impact on the accuracy of your results. Because of the presence of blood, it may be difficult for your provider to obtain a clear sample of cervical cells. You will most likely be asked to reschedule your appointment for a time when you are not menstruating. If you have spotting or light bleeding, you may be able to continue.

8. How is the procedure carried out?

A doctor or nurse can perform a pap smear by first asking you about your medical history. If this is your first pap smear, they may also go over the procedure with you. This is the best time to clarify all your doubts regarding the pap smear.

9. How much time does it usually take?

Inserting the speculum and taking a cell sample from your cervix usually takes less than a minute. Appointments usually last as long as regular doctor’s appointments.

10. What can be done to lessen the discomfort?

Pee before the test. Practise deep breathing and try to relax and if you are scared, request that your doctor uses the smallest speculum size. A pap smear may not be comfortable for some, but it is a basic test that can detect very early changes in the cervix.

📣 For more lifestyle news, follow us on Instagram | Twitter | Facebook and don’t miss out on the latest updates!

Source link