"It is your body and deserves to be respected," said 33-year-old certified nurse-midwife, Pamela Boatner.
Pap smear is a complex process and getting one is intimidating for a lot of people. Though Pap smear shouldn't hurt, the truth is that one can experience pain during the process. Moreover, there is hardly any information about what can be done to avoid painful Pap smear tests which put first-timers in a risky situation.
According to the Mayo Clinic, "A Pap smear, also called a Pap test, is a procedure to test for cervical cancer in women. A Pap smear involves collecting cells from your cervix — the lower, narrow end of your uterus that's at the top of your vagina."
But, here's the truth. "It should not hurt to get a Pap smear," a 33-year-old midwife, Pamela Boatner pointed out in a now-viral video on TikTok. Boatner—a certified nurse-midwife also serves as co-founder of Prepared Pregnancy, an online educational prenatal tool for pregnant people and their families.
"Hey sis," Boatner said calling out to her followers, "This is your midwife talking. It should not hurt to get a Pap smear. Pay attention, because this is what you need to do to make sure that your next annual exam goes smoothly."
"First thing you need to do is ask for a smaller speculum, because 9 times out of 10, they're using that big birther speculum, and unless you've had a 15-pound baby or have a pelvic disorder, you probably don't need that," Boatner explained. A speculum is used to open the vagina and a small brush to collect cervical cells.
Boatner then recommended asking for "plenty of lubrication on the speculum because we're not jamming it in there all raw. We don't have time for that today."
Speaking about the kinds of the speculum, she shared that if they are "using a metal speculum, please have them take the 15 seconds to warm up the speculum for you because coldness down there...don't nobody wanna do that either."
@prepared_pregnancy It doesn't take all of that to have a comfortable pap smear. Healthcare shouldn't hurt! #papsmear #papsmears #pap #cervicalcancer #cervicalcancerawareness #midwife #blackmidwife #normalizepapsmears ♬ original sound - The Rapping Midwife Pam
She suggests that during the procedure you can "change your position." She adds, "Sometimes, laying on your back with your feet up in those little stirrup things is not what's most comfortable for you. Ask them if you can change your feet and put them in a different position. This might be better for you."
Concluding the video she said, "When they find your cervix, tell them to tell you exactly what position it's in — left, right, or back — so you can remember and tell them for your next Pap smear to make it easier."
Speaking to Buzzfeed, Boatner explained why knowing the location of your cervix can help avoid a painful search. "Just like how most people have hair but the color or texture of the hair can be different, birthing bodies have a cervix but its location is not always in the same position," Boatner said. "For most, it is located directly in the center and posterior of the vagina, and for others it can be displaced slightly off to the right, left, down, or up. This is a variance of normal and is expected to change from person to person."
She added, "With this in mind, imagine how frustrating it can be for a provider to extend an already potentially uncomfortable exam because they are looking for the cervix in the wrong position. Knowing exactly where your cervix is not only empowers your body awareness, but helps both you AND the provider... Once the first provider tells you where your cervix is located, take note and remember. It makes the next Pap smear easier."
Many people responded to Boatner's video saying they had no idea they could ask for a smaller speculum. Others shared how traumatic their experiences were. One wrote, "I told my doctor I was in pain for two weeks after my pap and she said “it wasn’t from the pap” 🤬"
However, one user seemed to finally have found the right place, as they wrote: "I finally found a place that brought out a small, warmed speculum W/OUT ASKING, and did the whole thing w me totally covered up, I could have cried 🥲"
Boatner rightly said, "Education is key. Empowerment and confidence can only start with awareness." She further said in an empowering statement, "It is your body and deserves to be respected."
Cover Image Source: TikTok | Pamela BoatnerDisclaimer : This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.