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Pap Smear

What you should know

A Pap smear, or Pap test, is a procedure to check your cervix for abnormal cells. The cervix is the narrow opening at the bottom of your uterus. The cervix meets the top part of the vagina.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.


You may have mild discomfort during the Pap smear. You may not know you have abnormal cells if you do not have a Pap smear. Abnormal cells may grow and become cervical cancer.

Getting Ready

Before your procedure:

Write down the correct date, time, and location of your procedure.


What will happen:

  • You will lie on your back and place your feet on footrests called stirrups. Your healthcare provider will gently insert a device called a speculum into your vagina. The speculum is used to spread the walls of your vagina so he can see your cervix. He will use a thin brush or cotton swab to collect cells from the inside of your cervix.
  • Your healthcare provider will also collect cells from the surface of your cervix with a plastic or wooden tool called a spatula. He may also gently scrape the upper part of your vagina for a sample. The samples are placed in a container with liquid or on a glass slide. They are sent to a lab and examined for abnormal cells.

After your procedure:

You can go home after your procedure. Your healthcare provider will tell you when you can expect your Pap smear results. You may have some spotting the day of your procedure.

Contact a caregiver if

  • You cannot make it to your procedure.
  • Your monthly period has started.
  • You have questions or concerns about the Pap smear.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Pap Smear (Precare)

Micromedex® Care Notes