Ask the Doctor
February 12, 2013
Is a pap-smear examination painful?

Dear Doc,

My friend told me that when she had her pap-smear done it was very painful. If that is the case I don’t want it. Is it really a painful procedure?{{more}}


Dear Terry,

This is a regular response that is given for persons not wanting to do pap-smears. The truth is that many persons who have had it done say it is uncomfortable, whereas it is the persons who never had one who say it is painful.

When a pap-smear is done, a speculum has to be placed into the vagina so that the cervix can be seen properly, so that the sample can be taken precisely where it should be. If the sample is taken from the wrong place, then the results will be incorrect.

When the speculum is placed, there are a few basic procedures that can ensure that it is a comfortable experience:

Wear comfortable clothes like a skirt or a dress for easy access.

Be sure that you are clean so that you will be relaxed. No douching, please.

Relax and follow the instructions given.

Let your legs fall apart. Don’t tighten up your vagina.

Advise the doctor or nurse for a comfortable size speculum. They would lead you on how to decide.

The nurse or doctor will/should/could warm the speculum in water and use gel for lubrication.

Don’t close your legs until you are told to do so.

The procedure does not take more than a minute and when you are well prepared and relaxed it is a pleasant experience. Obviously, both patient and personnel have to make the experience pleasant. A well prepared team would make you comfortable.

Having a pap-smear done is a very important procedure. Different individuals would have different experiences. You should find a person or clinic that makes the experience a pleasant one, so that you are not driven away from having yours done. Let your own experience guide you and not the bad encounters of others.


SVG Cancer Society,

P.O. Box 709, Kingstown.