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Are You Ready For Your Pap?

Gynecologist explains the impending procedure to a patient

Heading to the the gynecologist can be stressful whether it’s your first visit or your 10th. No matter how friendly your care provider is, no one looks forward to them poking around with hard objects and asking a lot of questions. While current guidance suggests you only get a pap smear once every three years (if everything is normal), the visit still seems to come up quickly. It’s not a fun part of being an adult but it’s an absolutely necessary part of staying healthy.

Everyone has a different routine before their appointment. Some women simply make sure they are clean down there while others endure a full Brazilian wax. Most people assume they know what their doctor prefers but it’s likely not what you think. Here are a few tips to help make your next visit more comfortable for you and your provider.

1. Take a shower. The room is small and you’re going to get naked. It’s a good idea to be fresh down there but even better to be clean all over. You’ll be more relaxed if you’re not focused on, “is that smell me?” 

2. Keep track of your period. Blood can interfere with the results of your pap. If you are scheduling a routine visit to the office, it’s best to not be in the heaviest part of your cycle. There are certainly emergency visits and it may be unavoidable if you’re on your cycle. Always call the office if you have questions.

3. Again, keep track of your period. The medical assistant will inevitably ask you, “what was the date of your last period?” If you don’t keep track leading up to your visit, this question can be difficult. Your nurse practitioner will use this information, along with other factors, to determine if there are any potential issues. 

4. Delay the bikini wax. Waxing and shaving can actually cause inflammation that may give your midwife a false representation of what you normally look like. It also may be uncomfortable to the touch for you. Besides, this is not a date. It’s a medical visit and your doctor doesn’t care if you have hair down there.

5. Sex is ok but skip the douche. Several articles online suggest you should skip sex for the days leading up to your visit. This info is antiquated and so is douching. Having sex will not interfere with your test results. Meanwhile, douching can alter your natural hormonal balance. Your provider needs to see if there has been a change with any discharge since your last visit. Douching will absolutely upset your vaginal flora and could mask a potential issue.

As with any visit to the doctor, come with questions. This is YOUR time so make the most of your moment. Prior to your visit, think about anything that may have been nagging you about your physical, mental and emotional health. Each of these plays a part in your overall well-being and your provider is there to make sure the entire you is healthy.

If you have questions about your upcoming appointment at Nile Women’s Health Care, please do not hesitate to ask. After nearly 20 years of questions, there are no complicated or embarrassing queries. You can call at (770) 521-2229 or DM on Facebook/IG at nilewhc. See you soon!

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