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Your First Pap Smear
Transcript of Your First Pap Smear
We recommend that EVERYONE visit a medical provider annually to discuss general health concerns, and if needed sexual health concerns, birth control choices, or testing for sexually transmitted infections.
People with a cervix need a PAP smear at the age of 21. If your PAP smear is normal, you may not need to have another PAP smear for 3 to 5 years, depending on your age and the results of other recommended tests.
A PAP smear is a cervical cancer screening test that is looking for abnormal cells or changes on the cervix.
The PAP smear is an important health care routine for anyone with a cervix.
Things to do and to keep in mind before your PAP smear...
Do not have sexual intercourse in the 24 hours before your appointment.
Do not douche or use of any lubricants or medication in the vagina in the 24 hours before your appointment.
Ideally, try to schedule your appointment for a day when you will not have your menstrual period.
Please fill out your medical history form ahead of time and bring it to your appointment. The form is available online at campushealth.unc.edu/forms.
Before the PAP smear your health care provider will discuss your menstrual, sexual, and contraceptive history with you. The provider will ask you put on the examination gown or sheet after you remove your clothes. The provider will leave the room for you to change.
Then you will be asked to sit on the end of the examination table, place your feet in the foot rests and let your knees fall to the side.
The provider may begin by performing a clinical breast exam, where the provider will feel your breast tissue with his or her fingertips. This screening helps detect breast cancer at its earliest and most treatable stage.
You may experience a sensation of fullness, but the speculum should not be painful. Relaxing will make the PAP smear more comfortable.
During a PAP smear, cells are obtained by swabbing the cervix with a spatula and a cytobrush. This is not a painful procedure, but sometimes mild cramping and spotting may occur.
You will be asked to drop off the PAP smear specimen in the CHS laboratory. The specimen will then be sent to an outside laboratory where it will be examined for signs of cancer and other abnormalities.
If your PAP results are outside of normal, you will be notified and a follow-up appointment will be made. Findings of "abnormal" or "positive" mean that the laboratory specialist found cells that were not of normal shape or size. In most of these instances, inflammation or infection is the cause. It will likely be recommended that you have a repeat PAP smear after some time has passed (6 months to a year).
After the speculum is removed, the health care provider will do a bi-manual exam to check the size, shape and position of the uterus and ovaries. To do this exam, the provider will insert one or two fingers in the vagina and place the other hand on your abdomen, applying slight pressure.
For more information about PAP smears or other sexual health questions please call, chat or email the Sexual Health Specialists at Student Wellness.
All About the
Then, the provider will do an external exam, where the external genitalia is visually inspected to check for signs of cysts, discharge, irritation, or other conditions.
For the PAP smear, the provider will insert a speculum into the vagina. This enables the provider to see the cervix by parting the walls of the vagina.
The provider will ask if you would like to be tested for Gonorrhea and Chlamydia at this time. This is done by obtaining an extra sample with a cotton swab.
Most cervical cancers are caused by the Human Papillomavirus (HPV). There are several ways to prevent HPV, including vaccines. For more information on HPV please ask your medical provider at your visit.
If you are would like more information about safety and risks of the HPV vaccine, please visit cdc.gov and look for the vaccine section.
Keep in mind that each provider may have his/her own way of doing a well woman exam. Thus, the order and manner in which the appointment is described in this presentation may vary slightly. The provider should walk you through each step of the examination.
Typical Female Anatomy
Note: Every body is different. The previous image represented typical presentation of the female reproductive system. Campus Health providers recognize that not all female bodies have reproductive organs that look exactly like this. CHS also knows that one's gender identity and presentation has nothing to do with reproductive organs.
A Campus Health examination room