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PAP test

A PAP test is used to screen for precancerous conditions of the cervix and cervical cancer.


A PAP test is a procedure where a sample of cells is taken from the cervix to be tested. A PAP test is used to screen for precancerous conditions of the cervix and cervical cancer.

Sexually active women who are 21 years old and older should have a PAP test every 1 to 3 years, depending on your risk factors. You can have your PAP test at Health Services, as part of a complete checkup, or during one of our PAP-only clinics.  Call us to book your appointment.

When you book your appointment, plan for the appointment to coincide with mid-cycle (10–20 days after the first day of your menstrual period).

How to prepare for your PAP test

  • Avoid having the test during menstruation (during your period). For best results, the test should be done in the middle of your cycle, 10–20 days after the first day of the menstrual period.
  • Avoid sexual intercourse for 24 hours before the test.
  • Avoid vaginal medications or contraceptive (spermicidal) creams, foams or gels for 48 hours before the test.
  • It is important not to douche for at least two or three days before you see your doctor. Indeed, vaginal douching is never recommended.

All these behaviours can interfere with how effective the test is, and they can hide abnormal cells.

To learn more about the PAP test

  • Your first "internal" exam info from The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC). You can also watch an informative and realistic video developed by the Government of the Northwest Territories' Health and Social Services department.
  • Overview of PAP test from the Canadian Cancer Society including information on abnormal PAP test results.
  • Information on the colposcopy (this test may be prescribed by your doctor following an abnormal PAP test result).
  • A funny and accurate article in the student paper The Concordian about PAP test.
  • Check It Out Guys – Information about PAP tests for transgender men.

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