Most women have undergone a mammography, perhaps more than once. I myself have never made an appointment without being given specific instructions on what not to do the day of the exam. For example, don’t use any perfume, powder or deodorant is what someone planning a mammography is typically told.
Most women, however, are not provided with some other simple instructions when it comes to getting a Pap smear. Whether or not you comply with these recommendations can make a difference in the outcome of your results. In fact, they can interfere with accurate results. Although there has been a 75 percent reduction in cervical cancer over the past decades, the majority of that decrease today is the result of early treatment for precancerous lesions, thus preventing them from progressing to cancer. So following these instructions continues to be important when it comes to your health and obtaining the most accurate results possible.
According to Women’s Health, the following are instructions which all women should be provided when scheduling a visit which will include a Pap test:
1. Vaginal douches are not recommended for the three days prior to the
2. Do not have sexual intercourse two days before your Pap test.
3. Take showers instead of tub baths two days prior to the exam.
4. Tampons, vaginal creams or medications, contraceptive foams and
jellies are not advised in the 48 hours preceding the Pap.
5. Schedule your Pap one to two weeks after your period starts. Reschedule if you have your period during your scheduled appointment.
I’ve been having Pap tests for decades and cannot ever remember being given this information. The recommendations make perfect sense when considering the purpose of the Pap and just what is removed during the test. Any unusual substances such as contraceptive products and those contained in douches can effect the environment surrounding the cervix itself, thus preventing removal of the cells necessary to provide a more accurate result. This is true of any outside substance which would include seminal fluid, which his why sexual intercourse is discouraged as well.