doctor's appointment, first Pap smear

What to Expect on Your First Pap Smear Test and How to Prepare

A first pap smear test is critical in your fight against cancer. Your doctor will want to see a Pap smear every year for the first three years following your 21st birthday, then every third year after that. 

If you have a history of abnormal Pap smears, your doctor may recommend more frequent testing. Your exam will also include a pelvic exam, which checks your lymph nodes, vaginal walls, and labia.

Many people still feel awkward about getting a First Pap Smear. Some people feel like they have a “dirty” body and fear the embarrassment, pain, and natural functions of the exam.

Some women may struggle because they will have to be nude in front of another person. At the same time, others are afraid to admit that they have an infection or a sexually transmitted disease.

Whatever your reasons may be, the bottom line is that you need to understand that a Pap Smear is the only way to detect cervical cancer early. 

To help you prepare for your first Pap Smear test, here are some things that you might find helpful.

Preparations Before the First Pap Smear Test

  • Make sure not to schedule your Pap smear test during your period.
  • Wear something comfortable and easy to remove. Your doctor may ask to remove clothes from the waist down, but others ask their patient to remove all clothes, especially when they suggest a breast exam.
  • Do not worry too much about how you should groom yourself. Keep in mind that doctors have already seen it all.

What Happens During the First Pap Smear Test

At the time of your appointment, your doctor will look at your medical history, including any current health problems or medications you are taking. It is essential because it helps your doctor determine your overall health.

The doctor will ask some personal questions about your daily activities to see if there is any physical activity that can cause damage to your cervix.

Next, the doctor will ask you to undress from the waist down. The doctor will then go to your back and introduce the speculum. It is the same instrument used in your First Pap Smear test. 

There is no need to spread your legs or hold them. Your doctor will move the speculum in and out and do what is necessary to get the sample. The speculum opens up the vagina. At this point, the doctor will also introduce the culture swab. 

The doctor will gently insert the swab into your vagina to collect cells from your cervix. The doctor will also collect a sample of cells from the endocervix and the ectocervix.

After the sample is collected, the doctor will remove the speculum and insert a white plastic stick with a thin cotton-like material on the top. It is used to capture the sample. Your doctor will then gently touch the cotton tip to your cervix and collect several samples.

What to Do After

Your doctor will let you know if the Pap smear test results are positive or negative. However, even if the results are negative, you must continue visiting your doctor for regular checkups because abnormal cells may reappear after several months.

If you are found to have abnormal cells, your doctor will give you treatment options. Treatments can range from regular checkups to surgery. It is important that you follow your doctor’s advice.


Getting a Pap Smear test is not something you should avoid. It is a normal part of being a woman. When performing a Pap Smear, your doctor ensures that your body is healthy. If you have early signs of cervical cancer, your doctor will have time to treat you.

Know that your First Pap Smear is not painful. The process takes only a few minutes, and the doctor will spend the rest of your appointment answering any questions you may have and making sure that you are comfortable.

Are you looking for a reliable primary care doctor in Santa Fe? Visit us at Aspen Medical Center. We are an established primary care provider offering comprehensive annual wellness visits and physical exams. Call us at (505) 466-5885 to book an appointment.