If you’re a woman who has yet to go through menopause and are not pregnant, then you expect to experience your period on a monthly basis. While your period is a routine and natural part of your life, there are some situations where scheduling around it may be desirable. Some examples include everyday activities like swimming or wearing white. But, what about routine wellness procedures, such as a pap smear?
What is a pap smear?
A pap smear — or pap test — is a procedure done to collect cells from your cervix — the lower, narrow end of the uterus that’s at the top of the vagina. This test is done to detect cervical cancer early by observing and looking for abnormalities or cancerous cells. Since early detection is your greatest chance of a cure, it’s important that you get a pap smear every few years. Conveniently, pap smears are typically conducted at the same time as a pelvic exam.
How to Prepare for a Pap Smear
The results of your pap smear can be affected by different variables, so it’s important that you prepare before attending your appointment. You’ll want to make sure that you avoid sexual intercourse two to three days before the test. In order to prevent abnormal cells from washing away, you should also avoid using certain products for two to three days. These include:
- Birth control foams
- Vaginal medicines
- Vaginal creams or powders
How the Procedure Works
You can get a pap smear at the same time as your well-woman exam. The test is very quick, usually lasting less than a minute. Your nurse practitioner or OBGYN will insert the speculum and take a cell sample from your cervix. The speculum opens up to separate the walls of your vagina so that they can see your cervix. Then, a small spatula or tiny brush is used to collect cells from your cervix. This sample will be tested, and you’ll receive a phone call at a future date if there are any abnormalities.
During this process, you may feel some pressure or mild discomfort when the speculum is put in and opened, along with some light scratching when the cells are taken. However, the procedure should not hurt or be extremely painful. In some cases, some staining or light bleeding may occur afterward.
Can you get a pap smear while on your period?
A pap smear is evaluated by placing the cervical cells into a liquid solution. If blood is collected along with these cells, then it may obscure the results. That’s why the best time to schedule your pap test is before your menstrual cycle or at least five days after the end of your menstrual period. If your period is early or late, a pap test can still be conducted as long as the flow isn’t too heavy, but you still risk obstructed results.
If You Need a Gynecological Exam, Nurse Practitioners of Florida Can Help
At Nurse Practitioners of Florida, we have a dedicated team of certified nurse practitioners who have an unwavering commitment to providing you with care and compassion. When you call any of our locations, you will be greeted by a live person who’s ready to offer acute medical care as well as aesthetic procedures — including well-woman exams. And, above everything else, you will be treated like family.
If you need assistance, call us or fill out our online contact form.