What happens during a cervical cancer screening?

A cervical cancer screening is an important way to identify anything abnormal and connect you with follow-up testing and treatment if you need it. Women’s Wellness Connection offers free cervical cancer screenings (also called Pap smears or Pap tests or HPV tests) and follow-up to eligible women. This involves an examination of your cervix to check for anything unusual. There are two types of cervical cancer screenings. One type is the Pap test, and the other is the Human Papilloma Virus DNA (HPV) testing. Co-testing is recommended if you are aged 30 to 65. Over 90 percent of women who find cervical cancer early survive at least 5 years.

What to expect during your Pap test

  • The test will be done in a private room. If you'd feel more comfortable having a friend, family member or staff member in the room for the test, please ask the clinic staff and in most cases they may join you.
  • You'll be provided with a cover or gown to wear, and before the test, you'll need to remove your clothing from the waist down.
  • Your healthcare provider will begin the test by asking you to you to lie back on the exam table. Sometimes a pelvic exam is done before the Pap test.
  • For the Pap test, your health care provider will insert a small instrument into your vagina to help see your cervix. A few cervical cells are then taken from the surface and the inside of the cervix and sent to a lab to be checked.
  • The test usually takes less than 10 minutes.

A tip to help you prepare for your Pap test

  • If you are bleeding at the time of your Pap test, the clinic can try to send it into the lab. Please note the test may need to be repeated if it comes back unsatisfactory. Try to schedule your exam at a time when you are not bleeding.

What to expect during your Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) test

  • The HPV test may be completed at the same time as your Pap test. If the Pap and HPV tests are completed together is called “Co testing”.
  • Your healthcare provider will have you lay back on the exam table and place your feet in stirrups.
  • An instrument called a speculum will be inserted into the vagina so the provider can visualize your cervix. A few cells are taken from the inside of your cervix. You may feel a slight “twinge” but the test will be completed within a few seconds.
  • The tests are sent to the lab to be checked.