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Video:What to Expect From a Gynecological Exam

with Dr. Kate Grossman

The prospect of a Gynecological Exam can evoke fear in any woman, but getting your regular check-up and PAP Smear is an extremely important first step toward cancer detection and prevention. Learn what to expect straight from a doctor.See Transcript

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Transcript:What to Expect From a Gynecological Exam

Hi, I'm Dr. Kate Grossman, for About.com Health.

Let's face it, no one likes going to the Gynecologist. So when you are busy with school, work, or your family, it can be easy to overlook the need for a checkup. Whether it's your first time, or it's been a while since your last visit, here's a reminder about why you should go to the Gynecologist and what to expect once you get there.

Who Needs a PAP Smear & Check-Up?

All sexually active women and those twenty-one or older should go to the Gynecologist for a yearly checkup, because many preventative cancer screenings, like the breast exam, or a PAP Smear, start at the gynecologist.

Before your PAP Smear


You might want to schedule your check-up at a time when you won't have your period. You should also avoid putting anything into your vagina the day before the exam.

This means:
  • No spermicides
  • No sex
  • No yeast medications
  • No douches

Gynecologist Breast Exam


First, your breasts are examined for any abnormalities in the Breast tissue. The doctor examines you in a couple positions, with arms above your head and then placed at your sides, both sitting and then lying down.

PAP Smear


For your PAP smear, you'll be asked to lie on your back, with your bottom at the edge of the exam table, your knees bent, and your feet in stirrups. The doctor inserts a device called a speculum into the vagina in order to better examine your cervix. The doctor then uses a cotton swab to clean your cervix and a small wooden spatula to collect some sample cells. This may be unpleasant but it shouldn't hurt. The PAP smear sample is placed on a glass slide and sent to a lab to be analyzed for potential abnormalities.

After a PAP Smear


You may experience a little spotting and some mild cramping after your PAP smear, but most people can return to their normal activities immediately.

You should learn the results of your PAP smear within two weeks. Since many preventative cancer screenings start at the Gynecologist, getting an abnormal test result back from a Gynecological Exam could always be the first step toward saving your life. If you get an abnormal test result, you may be asked to have additional testing. However, a majority of PAP Smear results are normal and even when something abnormal is found, subsequent testing usually reveals it is not due to cancer.

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