How to prepare for a smear: Can I ask a female doctor for my smear?

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No one likes going to the gynecologist, but attending your cervical screening after you are 25 is important to protect yourself against cervical cancer. From 25 to 49 years, it is necessary to pass a smear every three years, then between 50 and 64 years, it is enough to pass more than five years. After that, you only need to have a smear if your last three tests were abnormal. The more you get tested, the less embarrassed you will feel for a doctor to inspect your private area. To make things more comfortable, Express.co.uk spoke with Lunette Menstrual Cup Founder Heli Kurjanen to learn her top tips for preparing for a Pap smear (and whether or not you can ask for a female doctor).

When you are 25, you will receive a letter from your doctor inviting you for your first cervical screening.

You will receive the letter within six months of your 25th birthday, but you should always schedule an exam sooner if you have gynecological symptoms before the letter arrives.

Heli explained, “These symptoms include irregularities in the menstrual cycle, unusual or severe vaginal or pelvic pain, abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge, swelling, tenderness, sores, bumps or itching, or changes. unusual in the chest.

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What happens during a smear?

The cervical screening process is fairly straightforward and your doctor or nurse will explain what will happen and answer any questions you have before the test starts.

The doctor may also ask you questions about your general health and in particular about any pain or genital problem.

They will also likely ask questions about menstruation, sexual activity, and birth control.

You may also be asked about your family history, prevention of STDs, pregnancies, illnesses, surgeries, and drug and alcohol use.

Heli said, “Don’t be embarrassed by any of these questions because lying at this point can put you at risk of not getting the best medical advice possible.

“You can be confident that everything you say is kept private and that you are not being judged. “

The test takes less than five minutes and you should be in and out of the room within 10 minutes.

You will be asked to remove your underwear and lie on your back on the examination table before the test begins.

The doctor will then insert a speculum to keep the vagina open enough so that a swab can be inserted to scrape a small sample of cells from the cervix.

Sometimes doctors will also do a pelvic exam when you are screened.

Heli noted, “This is usually the most uncomfortable part for patients.

“A doctor uses a speculum to examine the vagina and cervix, then places the fingers of one hand inside the vagina and presses on the abdomen with the other hand.

“It is used to assess whether the uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries and cervix are of a healthy size and position and to try to detect ovarian or ovarian cancer. other cancers. “

You can also have a breast exam which is brief and painless.

Heli explained, “The doctor will manually palpate your breast, looking for lumps, thickening or discharge.

“They will also teach you how to do a personal breast exam.”

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How to prepare for a smear

You don’t have to do anything to prepare for your smear, but you do need to make an appointment on a date when you don’t have your period, as the blood can impact your results.

Other than that, all you need to do to get ready is take a regular shower and avoid using powders or creams in the genital area.

Heli said, “While it’s totally understandable to want to arrive at your appointment clean and fresh, please rest assured that there is no need to deep cleanse yourself than you normally would.

“In fact, too much cleaning (eg douching) can negatively impact your hormonal balance and could potentially impact your exam.

“If you have a cervical exam, overwashing can remove cells that need to be examined.

“Plus, any discharge you have can help your doctor understand your hormonal balance, so cleaning it up means it might be missing important information, such as a change in flora, a bacterial imbalance, or a yeast problem. “

There is no need for hair removal unless you normally remove your hair there.

Heli explained, “Your gynecologist only checks that you are healthy, he never judges you for having hair there.

“Waxing and shaving can cause swelling or inflammation which can make a pelvic exam more difficult.”

Your choice of clothes could make the date harder or easier, depending on how easy it is to put on and take off your clothes.

Heli advised, “Wear clothes that are comfortable and easy to take off – jeans, leggings and tights all make it very difficult to take off and straighten up, so try to stick with dresses or loose pants and skirts.

“You may also need a breast exam, so a separate top and bottom will help.

“A button-down shirt will also make this experience a bit more comfortable. “

Can I ask for a female doctor?

Many women get nervous about seeing their gynecologist, and it’s understandable that they’d rather have a female doctor perform your exam.

Pap smears are normally done by a nurse or doctor, but not always.

So what do you do if you REALLY don’t want to see a male doctor?

Heli said, “Doctors certainly don’t mind patients who ask for a doctor of the same sex, and some clinics may even ask you for your preference when booking an appointment.

“You will never be asked to justify this request, and will be treated with confidentiality and professionalism. “

However, not all hospitals and clinics will be able to provide a female doctor if notice is short.

In that case, if you feel uncomfortable, you can bring a female family member or friend with you, and you can always ask for an additional chaperone nurse, Heli explained.

She added: “If you have requested a female doctor, and for some reason it is a male doctor who greets you at your appointment, it is important that you remind the doctor and staff of your request.

“Staff still will not question this request, but rather act in a professional manner and seek to rectify the error.”


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