A cervical smear, also commonly referred to as a pap smear, is an examination carried out by an obstetrician on the female reproductive system. This screening is critical for all women to ascertain that their reproductive system is healthy and to check for early symptoms of cancer and other diseases. This article delves in what you can expect when you visit your obstetrician for a cervical smear.
A physical examination of the internal and external organs
When you are planning to go in for a pap smear, it is critical to wear loose clothing that is easy to get out of since the lower part of your body has to be undressed for the examination. After the obstetrician directs you into a comfortable position on the bed, they will start by examining the external genitalia with gloved hands. Once the external examination is complete, your obstetrician will insert a speculum inside the vagina to widen and provide better access to the internal genitalia. This step is followed by an assessment of both your cervix as well as your vaginal walls. The speculum may feel uncomfortable going in, but it should not be overly painful.
The extraction of tissue samples
After the physical and visual examination is performed, your obstetrician will proceed with the collection of tissue samples from your cervical canal and the exterior of the cervix. The tissue collection is carried out with a tool that resembles a brush. Women with sensitive uteri may find the collection uncomfortable, but the feeling should pass after a few minutes.
A bimanual probe
Once your obstetrician takes out the speculum, they will perform a bimanual probe on your ovaries and your uterus. This examination is carried out by inserting fingers into the vagina with one hand while the other hand is gently pressed over your lower stomach. The bimanual probe aims to ensure that these organs do not have any abnormalities. If something out of the norm is detected, the obstetrician will investigate further with an ultrasound.
When your cervical smear is complete, your obstetrician will send your tissue samples to the pathology lab. The samples are then tested for any abnormal cells that would be indicative of disease or cancer. Your obstetrician will also carry out a test for HPV, which tends to affect sexually active women. The moment your results are out, your obstetrician will call you to furnish you with the news and inform you if further examinations are required or not.