PAP Smear! That’s enough to send shivers down the spine of many a woman. Although an important weapon in the physician’s armory for the early detection and prevention of disease, it is the bane of most women’s healthcare.
The PAP smear was developed by Dr. Papanicolau for the detection of cervical cancer. And this simple procedure has saved the lives of many a patient. However, that doesn’t make the process of having one any less embarrassing.
I recently assisted a young 22 year old patient through the procedure. She was placed in the dorsal, lithotomy position. Webster defines that as “lying on your back with knees bent and thighs apart.” I would say she just exposed her most intimate parts to some strange man she had only met once before.
Although I have been through the procedure thousands of times, I still try to remember that it may be much less easy for a patient, especially one so young. Careful language is used, anatomical parts are named medically, and no jokes are allowed. Well, at least not from the doctor.
This patient went through the procedure without a hitch. When we were finished, I told her that she could get dressed and that I would be right back in to complete the office exam and send her on the way.
She sat up and said, “After all this, shouldn’t you at least take me out to dinner?”