A Pap smear, also called a Pap test, is a screening procedure that can help prevent cervical cancer from developing. It tests for the presence of precancerous or cancerous cells on the cervix, which is the opening of the uterus. During this procedure, a speculum is carefully placed in the vagina and opened so the practitioner can see the cervix. They will gently scrape some cells off, which are then sent to the provincial lab where they are examined for abnormal growth. It may take up to four weeks for the results to be faxed to us and we will call a patient if there are abnormal results that may require treatment.
A person with a cervix*** should have a Pap test starting at the age of 21 or three years after becoming sexually active, whichever occurs later. Regular Pap tests are recommended every two years. After three normal results in a row (in six years), you can have the test done every three years.
For the test to be accurate, it is recommended that it’s not done during menstrual bleeding and vaginal penetration (body parts, toys, tampons, etc.) should be avoided 48 hours before the test.
If someone feels nervous or uncomfortable with the procedure, they are not alone. Our practitioners are experienced, caring and compassionate. Support workers are also available to assist you during the exam.
The Screening Program for Cervical Cancer is a program through the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency that notifies patients about their Pap test results and reminds them when they are due for another test. You can contact them at 1-800-667-0017. If you have a change of address, please update your information at ehealthsask.ca.
***We strive to be a safe and welcoming space for trans, non-binary, and gender-nonconforming folks. Let us know how we can support your sexual health needs. Our intake form has space to write your name, pronouns, assigned sex, and gender identity so that our practitioners can address you respectfully. Trans folks, if your name hasn’t yet been changed legally, we may have to include your deadname in our medical records and apologize if this causes any distress.
“Where else can I go?”
Any family physician is supposed to offer pap smear testing and should be helping you feel comfortable throughout the procedure. You have a right to bring a support person with you.
Call us at 306-522-0902 to schedule an appointment.