While many people have no problem at all with Pap smears, the truth is that too many people experience serious pain during their regular exams. In fact, many people avoid their exams because of this pain. There are a few different reasons why Pap smears can be painful. First, the exam itself can be uncomfortable, and many patients feel vulnerable. Additionally, some people have conditions, like vaginismus, that contribute to painful exams. 

If you've experienced pain during a Pap smear, here's what you need to know before your next Pap smear or gynecological exam.

Tell Your Gynecologist You're in Pain

It's important to let your doctor know if you're experiencing pain during your Pap smear. That way, your doctor can take steps to make the experience more comfortable for you. For example, your doctor may use a different-sized speculum or use a water-based lubricant. Additionally, your doctor can help you figure out why you're in pain and whether there's anything you can do to ease the pain.

Ask Your Doctor for a Referral to Pelvic Floor Therapy

If you're diagnosed with vaginismus, your doctor may refer you to pelvic floor therapy. This type of therapy can help you learn how to relax your pelvic floor muscles. This, in turn, can make Pap smears and other gynecological exams less painful.

In therapy, you will learn some exercises you can do at home to ease tension in your pelvic floor. Make sure you do these exercises regularly to build comfort with the movements required to ease the tension.

Ask Your Doctor About Medication You Can Take First

If you're worried about pain, ask your doctor if there's anything you can take before your exam. In some cases, anti-anxiety medications are helpful. This is because they can help you relax before your exam. There are also some medications, like numbing cream, that can help ease the pain of a Pap smear. This medication is applied to the cervix and can help numb the area so you don't feel as much pain during the Pap smear when the swab is collected.

Don't Skip Your Annual Exam

While no one wants to experience pain, it's important to keep up with your annual exams. Pap smears can help detect cervical cancer, so it's important to get one every year.

If you're worried about pain, talk to your doctor. There are some things that can be done to make the experience more comfortable.

Contact a local gynecologist to learn more.