A pap smear, also called a pap test, is an examination for women that involves collecting a sample of cells from the cervix or vagina with the goal of detecting abnormalities or cancer of the cervix.
A pap test isn’t painful, but can cause slight discomfort. First, a small device called a speculum is inserted into the vagina allowing the cervix to be examined, then a small brush or swab is used to get a sampling of the cells from the cervix. These cells will be sent to a lab and be tested.
Generally this test should be administered to women 21 to 65, every three to five years unless directed differently by a physician.