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Painful Pap Smears

No one looks forward to a Pap Smear. But while most see it as a necessary inconvenience to identify a potentially life-threatening health problem early, some women face it with a sense of terrible dread. For some women, a Pap Smear is not just mildly uncomfortable, but excruciatingly painful.

This point seems obvious - but make sure your doctor is aware of this. If it hasn't been painful in the past, make sure you let them know. Equally, if you have never had a Pap Smear that didn't bring tears to your eyes, let them know! A good doctor will be understanding and look for both the cause and the solution.

In the short term using a smaller speculum may help. Ask in advance if a paediatric speculum can be used. If it is not available, and you have had bad experiences in the past, you may wish to be referred to a gynaecologist who can use a paediatric speculum to make it less uncomfortable.

Of utmost importance is finding and treating the cause of the pain. After a medical check has been done and medical causes ruled out, the most likely cause is a condition called vaginismus. There is no standard medical treatment for vaginismus. Many doctors are either unaware that it exists, or assume that it is a ''psychological'' problem. Ask to be referred to Equilibria, where we specialise in this. Alternatively, just ring us and book an appointment - we do not require a medical referral.

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