Before your Pap test, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Try to make your appointment for a day when you won’t have your period. If you have any abnormal bleeding, make an appointment with your healthcare provider right away.
- Don’t douche or use contraceptive creams or jellies in the 24 hours before the test.
- Don’t have sexual intercourse in the 24 hours before the test.
- Avoid using personal lubricants in the 48 hours before the test.
How a Pap test is done
The test is done right in your healthcare provider’s office or clinic and only takes a few minutes.
You will be given a gown or sheet and asked to undress from the waist down. Typically you’ll be asked to lie on your back and put your feet up on stirrups or to bend your knees. Your healthcare provider will then gently insert an instrument called a speculum into your vagina so that the cervix can be seen. Your healthcare provider will then use a small spatula or brush to collect a sample of cells from your cervix to send to the lab. While you may feel a little discomfort, it should not be painful. It may help to take a few deep breaths to relax and reduce tension in your body.
Your sample will then be sent to the lab to be examined. Your Pap test results will be sent directly to your healthcare provider and you will receive a result letter by mail from the Alberta Cervical Cancer Screening Program in Alberta Health Services.
It’s normal to feel a little nervous or unsure about having a Pap test. Talk to your healthcare provider first, and they’ll do their best to put you at ease.
Watch this short video to learn more about what to expect during a Pap test:
Screening for Cervical Cancer, BC Cancer Agency