| Caroline Knight
The Papanicolaou test (commonly abbreviated to Pap test or Pap smear, or referred to as cervical smear or screening) is a screening test that detects potentially precancerous and cancerous cellular changes in the cervix. Women aged between 21 and 64 are invited every three to five years for a test to keep ensure cervical health.
Virgins have low risk of cervical cancer, but it’s still possible to contract HPV (human papillomavirus), which is usually transmitted through sexual intercourse. HPV is a virus that can lead to cancer, and even though virgin haven’t had sex, it is still possible that you have HPV passed on through parents or because of smoking, for example. Therefore virgins may still need to get a smear test done.
As smear tests are famous for not being the most pleasant experience - even when women are used to sex - virgins often wonder whether a Pap smear test will hurt them. In this article we will explain what you can expect as a virgin having a smear test.
Does a Pap smear test hurt if you’re a virgin?
The reality is that a Pap smear test can hurt whether or not you are a virgin. It shouldn’t usually be painful if everything as it should be physically and you have no vaginal soreness or infections; however, most women do find it a little uncomfortable. There may be variables such as how gentle the Doctor or nurse is, and whether you are anxious and tightening the vaginal muscles involuntarily.
For virgins a Pap smear might hurt a bit because the speculum is opened up inside them, which is a sensation they won’t be used to. However, even if it hurts a little the first time it is likely to be bearable. The key is to remember that it will be over quickly and to try and stay as relaxed as possible, perhaps even chatting to the Doctor or nurse throughout to take your mind off the procedure.
How is a Pap smear done?
The cervical screening test is designed to collect cells from your cervix (the lower end of the uterus). The cells are then analyzed in a lab to find out whether there are any abnormal cells and determine the likelihood of developing cancer.
In order to collect the cells, the Doctor needs to insert a speculum (a duck bill shaped device that opens up once inserted) into the vagina. They will then gradually open the speculum to give access to the cervix. Next they will take a swab, which you may be able to feel but it’s usually just a slightly uncomfortable sensation.
You can always bring a vaginal dilator with you and use it before the doctor inserts the speculum to relax muscles before exam. VuVa dilators can be used before an exam to ease discomfort.
The sample is sent away and checked for specific high-risk types of human papillomavirus. If these are not present you will not need to have any further tests done, and you’ll be invited for another smear test at the appropriate time (some years later). If a high-risk strain of HPV is present, the sample will then be checked for cellular changes, and treatment may be required.
So the bottom line is that a Pap smear test can hurt a little if you’re a virgin, but it should really only be uncomfortable, and it certainly won’t be unbearable. Most women see smear tests as ‘something to get through’ and over time you’ll get used to them, so they probably won’t feel quite as stressful! We hope you found this article informative, and don’t forget to check out the other articles in our blog, which contains a vast range of topics on women’s sexual health.
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