A pap smear is a screening for cervical cancer. Recommendations are to start pap smears at age 21 regardless of sexual activity, but our practitioners will customize the care that you need.
A pap smear is often done during your annual exam, but there may be times when you are following up and just need a pap. When you come for a pap smear, you will be given a soft, comfortable gown as well as a sheet drape over your lap. You will be asked to put your feet in stirrups, which puts your body in a position to allow the speculum to be introduced as easily as possible. During a pap smear, the provider will place a speculum in the vagina in order to visualize the cervix, and then use a spatula and brush-like tool to gently "scrape" or brush cervical cells from the cervix. The cells are then sent off to a lab and examined under a microscope and by a machine to check for any cervical cell abnormalities. The same sample can be used to check for the HPV virus. Please see the HPV section for details on when we check for the HPV virus.
Dr. Schapiro explains what happens when you come for a pap smear.