For most individuals, a pap smear isn’t an appointment that they get pleasure from. However, as uncomfortable and awkward as it may be, it’s definitely value it; pap smears are a lifesaving screening device for cervical most cancers.
“It’s looking for things that might make us want to do further testing to decide if there’s cancer or not,” mentioned Dr. Jessica Shepherd, a gynecologist in Texas and the chief medical officer at Verywell Health.
Shepherd famous that greater than 14,000 individuals within the United States are identified with invasive cervical most cancers yearly, and pap smears are a technique to catch the illness early so it may be handled and doubtlessly cured.
As vital as it’s to get pap smears when deemed vital by your physician, it’s additionally vital that you simply’re not doing something earlier than your appointment to cloud your outcomes.
Luckily, not a lot must be performed to prep for a pap smear, however there are issues you are able to do to make it extra environment friendly and your outcomes extra correct. That mentioned, there’s one large factor you need to attempt to keep away from earlier than your appointment, in accordance with gynecologists.
Experts say you need to skip any lotions or intravaginal merchandise.
“I would definitely not use any kind of intravaginal products, I would say that would be the main thing,” mentioned Dr. Amber Naresh, an affiliate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans.
This goes for issues like lotions for the remedy of yeast infections or vaginal estrogen merchandise which might be used to deal with vaginal atrophy, she mentioned. Additionally, spermicides and jellies ought to be averted, in accordance with the Mayo Clinic.
Naresh mentioned you need to cease utilizing these sorts of merchandise 48 hours earlier than your scheduled appointment — they may intrude with the pap check and mess along with your physician’s means to get a very good pattern. (Naresh identified that pap check is the up to date identify for pap smears on account of adjustments within the testing methodology.)
Another intravaginal product she says she’d keep away from earlier than a pap check — and all the time? “There is no benefit to douching, so I wouldn’t do that anyway but definitely not before the pap,” Naresh mentioned.
Does this embrace penetrative intercourse as effectively? It will depend on your physician. The guidelines concerning intercourse earlier than a pap smear range.
Naresh mentioned it’s tremendous to have intercourse earlier than your check, whereas sources like Johns Hopkins Medicine and the Mayo Clinic say to keep away from it for twenty-four hours earlier than an appointment.
According to Shepherd, avoiding intercourse earlier than a pap smear isn’t an across-the-board rule, and it gained’t make or break your check. But she mentioned it’s not a nasty thought to decide out of intercourse for twenty-four hours previous to your check. For extra recommendation, you possibly can ask your OB-GYN their choice.
While nixing intravaginal merchandise earlier than your examination was our specialists’ foremost tip, additionally they supplied just a few different items of recommendation that can assist you put together in your subsequent appointment.
Here’s what else they need you to know:
Don’t fear about grooming.
Many of us put stress on themselves to look a sure manner earlier than OB-GYN appointments by waxing or different pubic grooming strategies — however each specialists mentioned that’s not vital.
“We don’t really require that people do any pubic hair grooming, that’s not important for us,” Shepherd mentioned. “It’s really just we want people to be able to show up for their test.”
Consider rescheduling in case your pap smear falls on the heaviest days of your interval.
“There’s no problem with doing a pelvic exam while someone is menstruating,” Naresh mentioned, however “if the period is heavy, it can sometimes be more difficult to get an adequate sample from the pap.”
So in case you have an appointment for a pap smear in your heaviest stream days, Naredh mentioned it may be useful to reschedule. While it’s normally tremendous, of us typically do have to return for one more check if the pattern taken isn’t satisfactory, she famous.
You can nonetheless get a pap smear while you’re in your interval. “If the bleeding is light, then it really isn’t a problem,” Naresh mentioned.
Try to enter your appointment relaxed and ready.
Certain conditions usher in a calming vibe — pap smears ain’t it. But each Naresh and Shepherd mentioned it’s vital to strive to remain relaxed earlier than and through your appointment.
Naresh acknowledged that it’s a powerful ask, however mentioned a few of her sufferers take heed to podcasts or music throughout their appointment to maintain themselves calm. You can do this when you’re within the ready room, too, so that you aren’t tense while you see your physician.
Additionally, to get essentially the most out of your appointment, Shepherd mentioned it’s a good suggestion to come back armed with sure data. “We would want people to be aware of their past medical history, past sexual history because those things really help in the actual exam,” she mentioned. This can change how docs have a look at outcomes or what data they share with the affected person, Shepherd famous.
Lastly, Shepherd mentioned it’s vital to grasp that this fast check may also help lower your threat of getting cervical most cancers and is a manner so that you can advocate in your well being.
She added that you need to encourage your family and friends to get their screenings, too, to allow them to lower their threat of the illness as effectively.