People Are Realising What Actually Happens During A Smear Test, And Honestly, It's News To Me Too

I never knew all that, even though I've had one.
Svetlana Repnitskaya via Getty Images

In a TikTok, anatomy teacher Josh Cottle shared exactly what happens “when your pap gets smeared” ― and even though I’ve actually been through the procedure, I learned a lot from the video.

Showing a front-on diagram of a cervix and vagina, the educator shared that the vaginal tunnel leads up to the narrow entrance of the womb ― so far, I felt so educated.

Then, the anatomy teacher revealed that in order to take the four-to-six-inch-long journey from the vagina to the cervix, professionals have to use a lubricated speculum ― a hollow medical instrument that allows you to “see” the womb when open.

Again, I knew that much ― but I had no clue about what happened next.

Which is?

A device is used to swab the cervix to collect cell samples, Cottle revealed. But the device which collects the cells isn’t what I’d thought.

“It is essentially a cervical Scrub Daddy,” the creator said of the brush-like head of the device.

The NHS calls the collector a “soft brush.” The longer bristles in the middle are designed to enter your cervix ― TBH, perhaps ignorantly, I’d always assumed it was a cotton swab or something.

Cottle says “the cervix is highly innervated ― but everyone’s anatomy does vary.”

“Which means that for some, this might only be slightly uncomfortable, and for others, it may be... painful.”

Josh Cottle via TikTok

You should still get your smear test done

While, as Cottle points out, this is “nobody’s idea of a good time,” it’s our best bet for detecting cervical pre-cancer early. And as he points out, everyone’s experience is different.

You should absolutely get one if you’re eligible (if you’ve got a cervix and are over 25 and under 64, you should be offered regular testing).

You can ask for a smaller speculum if needed, and talking to your nurse and doctor may help.

Cervical cancer is the most common form of cancer in people with wombs under the age of 35. So get tested if you can ― it’s highly effective.

With that said, commenters still had thoughts

“The toothbrush of pain,” one commenter joked, while another said, “they basically use a tiny TOILET BRUSH to scrub us?”

Still, others said, “I was 27 when I was diagnosed with cervical cancer, plz get your smears!” and advised those who felt uncomfortable to try a different speculum.

The more you know, right?


With @Educator Andrea What happens when your pap gets smeared? Let’s take a look at the procedure and the anatomy of this medical procedure. #womenshealth #pap #cervicalcancer #cerix

♬ original sound - Josh Cottle