Why You Don't Need To Be Afraid of Your Pap Smear

How To Make Your Gynecologist Visit As Comfortable As Possible

Patient communicating with doctor
Patient communicating with doctor. undefined

No woman looks forward to having a Pap smear. Some describe as intimidating and uncomfortable. And in some cases, women even avoid having a Pap smear altogether because they dread it so much.

But it doesn't have to be this way. By educating yourself, you can focus on the most important issue related to the test: your cervical health.

Being Comfortable with Your Doctor Is Key

If you aren't comfortable with your doctor, you will likely feel some anxiety about having him or her examine the most private areas of your body.

When you're anxious, it's natural for your muscles to tense up, including your vaginal muscles. This can make the exam, especially the insertion of the speculum, more uncomfortable than it has to be.

Try to find a doctor with whom you get along. Some women feel more at ease with female doctors than male doctors, though personal preference varies. If you feel comfortable with your doctor, you are less likely to dread having a Pap smear.

Talking with your doctor about your anxieties around the screening is also important. If you experience a high level of discomfort during Pap smears, your doctor can help identify the cause. Many times, the discomfort is relieved by something as easy as warming the speculum or adjusting the stirrups. If Pap smears are painful, it is essential to alert your doctor. Mild discomfort is normal; pain is not.

If you feel self-conscious about your body during the exam, know you are not alone.

Just remember that doctors are looking at your vagina from a medical perspective, not a subjective one. No two vaginas look the same, and yours is not being compared to anyone else's. Doctors are focused on finding abnormalities that impact your heath, nothing more and nothing less.

What to Expect from a Pap Smear

Learning about the procedure is one of the best ways to empower yourself to become a more confident patient.

Educating yourself will not make the procedure more pleasant, but it will help you to understand why it is so important to have a regular cervical screening, and what to expect after it's done. A few moments of self-consciousness and minor discomfort are worth knowing the status of your cervical health.

Your First Pap Smear: What To Know. For women who have never had a Pap smear, or for those who are unsure of how a Pap is performed, read about what happens during a Pap smear, step by step.

6 Pap Smear Mistakes to Avoid. There are quite a few things a woman can do to help ensure the effectiveness and accuracy of her Pap smear. Learn what to avoid before your Pap smear appointment.

What Are the Possible Pap Smear Results? Women can receive one of several possible results from a Pap smear. Learn what each result means and how it may affect you.

Help! My Pap Smear Results are Abnormal! Abnormal results can be common. Become educated about abnormal Pap smear results and why you may need further examination.

My Doctor Says I Have HPV. A Pap test may reveal abnormal cervical changes caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). Here's what you should know if you have HPV.

When Your Doctor Recommends a Colposcopy. A colposcopy is a cervical exam that allows the doctor to get a better view of your cervix. Learn why it's done and what to expect if your doctor recommends you have it.

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