Cervical exams are undeniably crucial for early cancer detection, but let's face it – they can be a bit daunting. As a young adult, I grappled with shame and anxiety surrounding these exams, feeling emotionally and physically uncomfortable. That personal struggle fuelled my determination to change the narrative. In my journey, I signed up to be a cervical exam model while I was a student. This decision wasn't just about my own growth but was driven by the desire to offer valuable feedback to practitioners who would be performing pap smears on patients.Now, as a naturopathic doctor at Oak Clinic, I've transformed my own experience into a more comfortable one for my patients.
Preparing for the Exam:
To ensure accurate testing, it's best to schedule your exam when you're not menstruating. For those with irregular periods, wait until it starts before booking – timing matters. Grooming is entirely unnecessary.
What to Expect:
Before we dive into the exam, we'll have a discussion about your health concerns, goals for the exam, and any past experiences that might impact your comfort. I've found that using a wedge pillow makes for a more relaxed experience, while sheets and gowns are there to ensure your comfort throughout.
The test itself begins with an external examination of the vulvar structures, before moving onto the internal exam. The cervical exam involves inserting a speculum into the vaginal canal and using a spatula or brush to collect a sample of cells from the cervix. Surprisingly, the cervix isn't very sensitive, making this step typically painless but you will feel pressure. If needed, we can also collect swabs for bacterial vaginosis, yeast infections, or STIs.
After the Exam:
Once you've changed, we'll go over next steps and any questions you might have. I'll send your samples to the lab, and you can expect results in about 4-8 weeks for pap results and 1-2 weeks for swab results. If further treatment is necessary, we may book a follow-up visit to discuss your options.
At Oak Clinic, my focus is on making your cervical health examination as personal, comfortable, and informative as possible. I've been in your shoes, and I'm here to ensure your journey is one of ease and reassurance.