When scheduled for an elective (non-emergency) gynecologic exam, you may want to follow these tips:
- Bring a list containing date of last period, names of prescription medications you are taking, socks if you like your feet kept warm in the stirrups, and questions you want to ask.
- Keep the vagina off limit for about 48 hours prior to the exam so that the Pap smear will not be altered by the presence of leftover semen (ejaculate), contraceptive gel/foam, lubricants, moisturizers, etc. That way you will avoid a phone call telling you that your smear came back abnormal and that it will need to be repeated in the near future. It will spare you of unnecessary worrying while you wait for the next Pap smear…
- Also for 48 hours prior to exam: refrain from using tampons and from sitting in water (bath, jacuzzi, whirlpool, chemically-treated water such as a pool, etc.) so that your vagina will stay naturally moist. Why? To ease the way in for the speculum, that metal or plastic ‘duckbill instrument’ that is used to hold the vagina open during the internal exam. But do take a shower as part of your daily hygiene routine!