***In order to keep this series light-hearted and easy to read I am not going to quote or site any sources except the knowledge of what I have learned through conferences, school, from pathologists and others who have gone on before me. THIS IS NOT TO REPLACE ANYTHING YOUR DOCTOR/NURSE PRACTITIONER/MIDWIFE/etc IS TELLING YOU. This is just some easy to read information.***
Image via HERE
So this mini series I am going to write is all about Pap Smears. The majority of the patients that come to my office have no idea why we do a pap smear, all they know is that they have to get it done in order to get birth control. They know it is supposed to happen once a year but really, what the heck is a freakin pap smear??
We will get there... but today I am going to give you a few tips about how to prepare for this visit.
1. If you normally wax or shave or laser or go hairless for some reason or another- no problem, keep it that way. However, if you do not normally do this... Please DON'T do it for me. I often see patients with irritated skin, cuts, chafing, and I feel so bad that they went to all that trouble when it doesn't matter either way if it is done or not.
Sometimes cuts or bumps from shaving can be confused with herpes outbreaks, bad yeast infections, warts, or cysts. We don't want to alarm you and you sure don't want to alarm us.
I promise. If you are unshaven it doesn't make our job easier or harder. We don't notice one hairless or not patient from the next. Do whatever you are comfortable with. Please don't be embarrassed. If someone ever makes you or has made you feel uncomfortable in the past do not return to that provider. Shaven or not is none of our/their business and it is not appropriate to comment on that or make you feel self conscious.
2. If you are on day one or two of your period, call ahead and let us know. Sometimes we are perfectly find doing a pap smear when you are bleeding, we wipe away the blood- get the pap smear and then you go on your merry way. If you are bleeding HEAVY please call to reschedule, don't just not show up. Common courtesy. If you call and cancel early in the morning or the day before we will fill your slot with someone who needs to be seen that day, if you don't call, we will sit around and wait, which wastes everyone's time.
3. Don't have intercourse right before your pap smear. If your husband/boyfriend/partner has some sort of fantasy about you being at the gyno- tell them you will replay it after your appointment. The semen on the pap can interfere with the results and we don't want you to have a false abnormal result.
4. Know your insurance. Some insurance companies pay for a pap smear once every year- like 2011, 2012, 2013- any time during the year. Other companies pay for one no sooner than every 365 days. We will try to verify insurance before your pap smear, but double check- just in case.
5. If you have a whole list of problems- your practitioner may not be able to cover them all in the allotted time slot. Please tell the scheduler if you have more concerns so that they can schedule the right amount of time for you. If you want blood work, come fasting; if you want an STD check, let them know; if you need birth control, ask for it. We aren't mind readers even if we have your chart in front of us.
6. Let us know if you have had an abnormal pap smear in the past, it can change if we add extra testing to your pap smear. If you are unclear what this means, let us know so we can discuss it with you (or stay tuned for the rest of the mini series by me..haha).
7. Last but not least- know that we are trying to be sensitive. We don't do this to intentionally inflict pain. We don't want it to be uncomfortable for you, but sometimes it will be. Let us know if you have had a hard time with pap smears in the past, or if you have a history of sexual abuse because both of these things can make pap smears more difficult for you and we want to understand how we can help you better.