If you’re nervous or have a lower pain threshold
there are a few things you can do to help reduce any potential discomfort.
When you schedule your appointment
ask if you can take ibuprofen an hour before your appointment.
Over-the-counter pain medication can reduce the feeling of discomfort.
Ask someone to come to your appointment with you.
You may feel more comfortable if you bring someone you trust with you.
This could be a parent, partner, or friend.
If you’d like, they can stand next to you during the Pap smear
or they can simply wait in the waiting room — whatever makes you feel more comfortable.
When Pap smears are uncomfortable
it’s often because there’s a sensation of pressure in the pelvic region.
Urinating beforehand can relieve some of this pressure.
In some cases, your doctor might request a urine sample
so be sure to ask if it’s OK to use the restroom beforehand.
Ask your doctor to use the smallest speculum size.
Often, there are a range of different speculum sizes.
Let your doctor know you’re worried about the pain
and that you’d prefer a smaller size.
If you’re worried it will be cold
ask for a plastic speculum.
Plastic speculums are warmer than metal ones.
If they only have metal speculums
ask them to warm it up.
Ask your doctor to describe what’s happening so that you aren’t caught off guard.
If you’d prefer to know exactly what’s happening as it’s happening
ask them to describe what they’re doing.
Some people also find it helpful to chat with their doctor during the exam.
If you’d rather not hear about it
ask if you can wear headphones during the exam.
You could play relaxing music through your headphones to help soothe any anxiety and take your mind off of what’s happening.
Practice deep breathing during the exam.
Breathing deeply can soothe your nerves
so try to focus on your breath.
Try to relax your pelvic muscles.
It may feel instinctual to squeeze your pelvic muscles when you feel pain or discomfort
but squeezing could add pressure to your pelvic region.
Deep breathing may help you relax your muscles.
Speak up if it hurts! If it’s painful, let your provider know.