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Readers Respond: What does it feel like to get a Pap smear?

Responses: 22


Updated April 26, 2010

Although there are some women who have had strongly negative experiences with Pap smears, many women find them to be no big deal. This is a place for women to share their stories about what it is like to get a Pap smear - whether it was funny, painful, or boring. Please, however, keep any comments about whether you think Pap smears are necessary over here. This is a place for women to discuss their actual experiences during an exam.

To answer anonymously, log out of your account and post as a guest.


Pap smears are a absolute breeze no need to worry all . So everyone should have one
—Guest Samantha

Thank God for Pap Smears

I had my pap smear and it came back abnormal. I had all the test done for cervical cancer and I found out I am a cin III. High risk. I have a total hysterectomy coming up June 1st. I have had abnormal paps for 4 to 5 yrs and had the treatments for them. This year I got a 2nd opion and I am glad I did. I learned more in 1 visit with this dr than I did in all the other visits with the other one. Ladies get your paps done,. It is so important. Ask questions and if you dont like the answer go on line and look it up and if you have to change drs. Your life may depend on it. Just look up on the ceiling at the picture. Your dr is your dr and is doing his job and is more than likely saving your life, Isnt that worth what like bit of embarassment you feel? After all the dr has seen all kinds of buttoms what makes yours so special? LOL You know what I mean. GET YOUR PAPS DONE LADIES YOUR LIFE DEPENDS ON IT
—Guest catnlucille17

Not a problem

I've had plenty of pap smears over the years and have never found them painful. Uncomfortable- yes! Embarrassing- definitely! But I'm very shy of my nether regions, even with my husband. I have always had a female nurse carry them out and they are so practised at it that it begins to seem like any other procedure and for the peace of mind it brings, it's well worth it.
—Guest Danielle


my pap smears were extremely painful. The first time I thought it was because the area was inflamed from cancer but after surgery and treatment and feeling better the next one hurt just at much and the doctor had to stop. I don't know why they should be so painful. Don't we put tampons up there and sometimes they bump into something; isn't that the cervix? Why does it hurt so much in the exam? I agree with the person who said they can devise something better, without pain.

Never Skip Your Pap Smear

I really don't like Pap smears. I don't know any woman who does! They are uncomfortable and a bit embarrassing, but I remind myself that the person doing the smear does several hundred of these every year and has likely done thousands of them in his/her career. I agree that nurse practitioners are much better at pap smears. They are more gentle and it's a better experience. But regardless of the discomfort, it is SO IMPORTANT for women to get pap smears regularly. I have worked in a cancer center for many years and have counseled women with advanced cervical cancer. I have watched women die of this disease. It is so tragic because the disease is 100% treatable if caught early. Don't ever skip a pap smear because it's inconvenient, embarrassing, or uncomfortable. It's a lot less inconvenient than being diagnosed with advanced cervical cancer!
—Guest So Worth The Trouble


Of course I can think of about a thousand things I'd rather be doing than have a pap smear, but it's such a relief to know that I don't have to worry about cervical cancer. Taking deep breaths and relaxing as the speculum is inserted has really helped make the experience less uncomfortable!
—Guest Nicole

Midwives and NPs!

I've been getting my "yearlys" since I was about 19 (I'm 33 now). What I've learned is that midwives and nurse practitioners are much more gentle and respectful than ob/gyns - even female ones. I've never had an issue getting my paps. They're awkward and a little embarrassing, sure, but since I've started asking for the NP or the midwife for my well woman exams, it's been a breeze. They tend to know a little bit more about the side effects of the different pill brands, too, an added bonus.

Not a Big Deal at All

I have such a comfortable relationship with my OB/GYN. We chat about our kids and I don't even realize he's doing the Pap until it's over.

Nothing to it

Compared with everything else you are subjected to in a routine medical exam, the pap smear experience is no more uncomfortable. I have almost always had a female nurse practitioner or doctor, and I think that is something that can help a lot of women overcome their hesitancy about the procedure. But really, when you compare it with getting poked and prodded everywhere else, and having blood drawn or even blood pressure taken, it is any more uncomfortable or painful? NO! It's just another area of your body that can have its own set of problems and it should be checked regularly. A caveat is that I know a rape victim who, unfortunately, has always had a male doctor, and pelvic exams bring back that trauma. Nowadays it is very easy to find a female NP, PA or MD for your exams, and I think anyone with qualms about exposing themselves to a male provider should request a female.
—Guest wb

Good, and...Eh

The pap itself, for me, is not painful per se, just a little uncomfortable. (And when I say 'uncomfortable', I don't mean it as a code word for 'painful,' I'm really referring to slight discomfort.) The only part that I don't like is when the swab itself scrapes my cervix, but it's over in a second or two and then the rest is fine. There are a few things I actually enjoy about my pap exams. First, it really feels great knowing that I'm being proactive about my health and that I don't really have to worry about major problems going undetected until it's too late, which is something that I do otherwise worry about. Also, I've looked carefully for a gyno who is not only wonderful, but who has a wonderful office staff, too. They're funny, reassuring, and just plain nice. I feel really taken care of when I go in, almost like visiting a spa. For those who hate paps, I'd recommend getting a female doc (or really nice male) with a nice office staff. It doesn't need to be traumatic.
—Guest Lizzie

uncomfortable, but necessary

I find Paps to be a little uncomfortable (like a pinch) but over with quickly. The funniest one I had was 6 wks postpartum. My baby was screaming and I had to hold her while I was on the table DURING the exam!
—Guest catherine

Worth It

I've had a number of them. While it's never comfortable, especially when done by a male doc, I get through it. I'm sure they saved me from something worse, because a few years back my numbers were elevated, so I kept a watch on it. Screening for diseases is one of the best medical offers out there, in my opinion.
—Guest Anne

Easy and painless!

I've heard a lot of horror stories, but Paps have always been straightforward for me: a bit of a cold poky feeling and then done. It definitely helps to have a female gyno or PA do it. They understand when to go slowly to ease discomfort and when to go quickly and get it over with!
—Guest Rose Fox

Not a Big Deal

My experience with Pap smears have been fine. The speculum is a little cold, and there's some slight pressure during the exam, but it's always over quickly and it's never been painful. I have a doctor whom I respect and feel comfortable with, and who is very good about explaining what she's doing, so I'm sure that helps.
—Guest HNW

Peace of Mind

It may be embarrassing and I may hate the experience, but every year after I've had my Pap smear, I have another year's worth of peace of mind. More than worth the price.

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