How Do I Prepare Myself For My Annual Pap Smear and Pelvic Exam?

>> Thursday, August 22, 2013

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This week’s question, "How do I prepare myself for my annual pap smear and pelvic exam," is one a lot of women worry about. For many women, the yearly trip to the gynecologist is the only contact they have with a physician. So it can be a good idea to make a list of questions you may have, including any tests you want to discuss.

Yearly pap smears are exams that are done in the gynecologist’s office to screen for cervical cancer. During the exam, an instrument called a 'speculum' is used to help open the vagina so a sample can be taken from the cervix (at the top of the vagina) with a small cytobrush.

Then, a pelvic exam will be performed to evaluate for ovarian cysts, pelvic pain, or an enlarged uterus. This can be done in two ways. The most common method is a manual evaluation by the examiner (using two fingers inside the vagina with the other hand on top). This helps the examiner feel for any abnormalities or pain. In more difficult cases, a pelvic ultrasound can be done to get a more accurate evaluation.

Women often worry about 'grooming' the pubic area prior to their exam, however, shaving or even trimming the pubic hair is not necessary. It is also important not to douche or try to clean out the inside of your vagina before your appointment, as you may remove or destroy the important cells needed to evaluate for cervical cancer or infections. Using perfumed or vinegar-based douches or soaps prior to a pap smear can sterilize the vagina, making it impossible to retrieve any cells to send to the lab. Finally, it is important not to have sex within 12 hours of your exam. If you do, use a condom to prevent semen from interfering with the exam.

It is, of course, ok to wash the outside of your vaginal area prior to your exam so you feel clean. It is common for many women to feel uncomfortable about vaginal odors and try to cover up the smell. But remember, you are there - to find out if you are healthy, and this is the most important way to help your doctor help you.

We have talked in previous weeks about how wonderful WaterWorks is for vaginal cleansing. Because it uses only natural tap water for cleansing, there are no harsh chemicals to harm your vagina or cause more odors and irritation. In fact, it is the reaction of the water with the specially designed stainless steel nozzle and the vaginal mucosa that creates the cleansing action that eliminates odors. Many women say it works great after sex to help rinse out semen, which helps eliminate prolonged discharge and odor.

Well, this is one time I do not want you to use it! While WaterWorks is awesome and really works to eliminate vaginal odor, using it before your gynecologist appointment can still rinse out the important cells your gynecologist needs to evaluate your cervix for cancer and infections.

I hope this helps you. Please ask me any questions you have. I would be more than happy to answer them, and any comments or questions about WaterWorks. I write this blog and stand behind WaterWorks because it really works. Every patient that has tried it absolutely loves it and now can't imagine what she would do without it. It means a lot to me to know their quality of life and confidence have improved. Yours can too!
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