A vaginal speculum is a device, usually made of metal, that your gynecologist uses to open the walls of your vagina. Using a speculum in this manner allows your gynecologist to visually inspect your vagina and cervix, as well as the ability to collect cervical cells necessary for Pap smears .
Why is a Pap test done?
A Pap smear is a test done to detect cervical cancer. In general, it is recommended that this test be done annually, although Pap tests are no longer necessary for women under 21 years of age.
If you are over 30 years old and have had three normal Pap tests in a row, you can ask your doctor if you can dial and get the test only once every five years along with the HPV test. Women over 65 with normal Pap test results may completely refuse to have a Pap test.
If you are still in the age range for which a Pap test is recommended and your results show abnormal changes in the cervix, a colposcopy is done. Colposcopy is a diagnostic test that allows the doctor to take a closer look at the cervix.
What to Expect from a Pap Smear
Not many women enjoy an annual visit to a gynecologist. But for the most part, if you don't experience chronic genital pain, nothing in the process should hurt.
First, you will be asked to undress below the waist. You will be given a sheet that looks like a giant paper towel to cover the middle and upper thighs so that you are not completely naked. Some gynecologists even offer gowns made from this paper-like material.
Next, you will be asked to lie on the exam table and place your feet on the stirrups. Stirrups can be cold, so bring your socks. The doctor will then ask you to lower your hips to the edge of the table so that your legs flex and open easily on either side.
Then a lubricated speculum is inserted into the vagina. Remember to breathe deeply when this happens and relax your muscles as much as possible. It will also help relax the muscles in your vagina and make the exam less uncomfortable. The discomfort is usually caused by overly tense muscles.
Then, using a small brush or mascara-like swab, your doctor will take samples of cells from your cervix. To do this, rub the cervix very carefully with a brush or swab. Some women do not feel any sensations at the same time and others experience slight discomfort. After taking the sample, the speculum is carefully removed from the vagina.