A pap smear isn't scary. Okay fine, it shouldn't be scary. It shouldn't be scary but it may be scary if you have a history of sexual abuse, rape, vaginal trauma, a bad or painful pap smear in the past, or you just don't know what is going on or what to expect.
image via wikipedia
A speculum is an instrument that allows us to see inside the vagina so that we can visualize the cervix. A light is either attached to the speculum itself, or positioned in place so that there is a clear view of the cervix.
Sounds simple right? Well, after time it does become simple for a practitioner to visualize the cervix in order to do a pap smear, however, not all anatomy is created equal. The cervix is sometimes towards the top of the vagina (anterior), the back of the vagina (posterior), or it can be towards the right or left sides. None of these positions are bad or abnormal, but if a provider mentions to you where you cervix is, remember it! This way you can tell future providers where to look if they seem to be taking a long time to visualize your cervix.
Example, "I am so sorry it is taking so long for the pap smear Ashley, your cervix is just posterior, and sometimes that makes it hard to see. But don't worry, I found it just fine and the pap smear will be over in just a few seconds."