sex ed: pap smears

A little over a month ago, I set up an appointment to get a pap smear or pap test. A pap smear is a test for women, and vagina-owners get every few years to test for cervical cancer for those who do not know. It is recommended for women/vagina-owner to get tested starting at 21 years old. I turned 21 in May and spent a good time procrastinating on getting checked out, but since I am a sexually active person, and cancer can spread quietly at first, I got the courage to attend the health clinic at my college to get the test. But let me tell, I got more than what I bargained for.

I stepped into the clinic and got prepared for the test. The nurse asked if I also wanted STI testing. Since it could have been done simultaneously, the pap test was being done, so I decided to get it. When I opened my legs for her to examine my vagina and cervix, the nurse said, “We have a dilemma.” My heart stopped, and I asked, “What’s wrong?” She said, ” Your IUD is out of place.” I was confused because I had the IUD for over a year and nothing seemed abnormal about it before. Now I was stressed because this is not what was suppose to happen. The nurse suggested that I get it removed and then proceed with the pap smear. I did not want to get it removed, but I knew it was the best option. It’s better to have no IUD than a misplaced one. So I got it removed, and it was not as painful as getting it placed.

After that fiasco was over, I was able to get my pap smear. I will admit, it was a slightly uncomfortable experience. I felt circular motions within me, which I believe is part of collecting the cervical samples. Luckily the process was quick, and the nurse also took samples for the STI testing. Lastly, the nurse prescribed me the patch as an alternative form of birth control.

So I went in for a pap smear, and I did get a pap smear. But I also got an STI test, IUD removal, and a new birth control prescription during the same appointment. It was an overwhelming experience, but I am glad I decided to get the test because if not, I probably would have been walking around with a misplaced IUD putting myself at risk for many things.

My results were normal for the pap smear and negative for the STI tests. I highly recommend that women/vagina-owners also get pap smears since it is a good preventative measure from suffering from severe cervical cancer. I also suggest women/vagina-owners do their research on birth control and its complications to be aware of what they are getting themselves into.

Thumbnail art by Meredith Miotke.

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