If you have been a regular on healthshots.com, then you know all the tea on cervical cancer that we have been spilling this January. But, there is one thing we’d like to talk about today: how to prepare for your first Pap smear.
Screening for cervical cancer is important–it’s what can help you beat the disease before it beats you. And Pap smears, every three to five years, are the way to go. But they can also be scary.
So, we thought that we’d get all your FAQs on Pap smears answered by an expert to rest your fears once and for all. Without further ado, we present gynaecologist Dr Swati Gaikwad from Motherhood Hospital in Pune with answers to everything you’ve always wanted to know about getting a Pap smear:
Q1: When and how often should I get my first Pap smear done?
Anytime between the ages of 21 and 30 is the perfect age to get your first pap smear test done. One every three to four years will suffice–even if you are sexually active. Taking a test every year is a myth.
Q2: Are there any precautions that I need to take before my pap smear test?
Yes, you do. For starters, you shouldn’t be on your period. Also, unprotected sex, using spermicides or other chemicals in the vagina, douching, and washing with vaginal washes should be avoided for 48 hours before the Pap smear.
Q3: Does a Pap smear hurt?
A Pap smear doesn’t really hurt or cause, but it can be an uncomfortable experience.
Q4: Will I bleed afterwards?
There is a possibility that you might bleed due to minor scraping of the inner lining–but don’t worry, it won’t be heavy. It’ll be spotting mostly, but just to be on the safe side you can carry a sanitary napkin with you.
Q5: Can a Pap smear tell if I’m a virgin or not?
Nope, it can’t tell your virginity status. For that other tests are required in which the gynaecologist needs to go deeper within the vagina. Moreover, the consent of the woman is required for that test.
Q6: Can it help in the detection of STDs and STIs?
Pap smears can only detect fungal and bacteria infections.
Q7: Can it tell me whether I have HIV?
Q8: Should I shave or wax my pubic hair before getting a Pap smear?
Shaving or waxing your pubic hair doesn’t have any repercussions on the Pap smear, so it’s totally your call.
Q9: How long do the results take?
It takes about one to three weeks to test results to come back.
Q10: Are there any risks involved?
Pap smear is not a risky procedure.
Q11: Can it confirm whether I’m pregnant or not?
A Pap smear can’t tell whether you’re pregnant or not. But, women who are pregnant can get one done.
Q12: Can it rupture my hymen?
The possibility of that is really low, but it all depends on how gently the doctor is handling the tools and you.
Q13: What are the precautions I should take after the test?
Nothing as such, but if you’ve got any lesions during the process then it is recommended that you avoid using any chemicals in or around your vagina.
Q14: Can I have sex after a Pap smear?
Avoid sexual intercourse for at least a day.
Now that you know how to go about a Pap smear, talk to your doctor and schedule one for yourself.
Feel that we’ve missed out on something? Drop us a line in the comments section below and we’ll get your query answered. Until then, take care of your vajayjay.