Have you ever reacted to Pap-themed TikToks with your gynecologist? No? Come along — let’s check it out!
Don’t have time to read this post? Watch the video here instead!
[Video of a woman talking, with tender music playing in the background. Both characters are played by the same person.]
Have you ever been in love?
I don’t think so…
Do you want me to describe it to you?
[Woman puts metal salad tongs into her mouth and opens them as wide as possible. She takes a toilet brush and sticks it into her mouth as it’s held open by the tongs. Tender music continues playing.]
Doctor Rich [doubled over, laughing]:
I… Okay. I just hope that’s not a toilet brush (and it is, that it’s never been used!).
That is, uh… uh… [at a loss for words]
Overall, that’s fairly accurate. I think the size representations are off *a little bit.* The Pap brush is smaller than, like… a pencil! I’m not trying to downplay the experience — the Pap test is no one’s favorite exam!
But having performed 10,000 Paps (and never having had one myself!), I do have an appreciation for the process. I’ve had many other medical procedures — and have an overall sensitivity to what people are going through. And at the end of the day, you just want your provider to be experienced, have empathy, and have communication so that as you’re going through the process, that can be as tolerable as possible.
[Second TikTok skit begins. A woman is in the stirrups of the exam table, while a gynecologist prepares to start her exam. Goofy SpongeBob music and dialogue play — with the actors lip-syncing the dialogue from an episode. The caption reads “POV: You get your first Pap smear.”]
Doctor Rich [reading video caption]:
Fantastic! Let me see it!
Patient [drawing up her legs and hugging them against herself]:
No, wait — I’ve changed my mind!
I’m sure what’s written is fine. Just let me see!
Patient [still clutching her legs]:
No! Don’t look — it’s not ready!
Is this a SpongeBob thing?
Yeah, he’s writing an essay!
So this is the first Pap smear — obviously that’s a very intimidating process for anybody! And again, you want a provider that’s done many Paps, has a lot of experience with patients who are coming in for the first time, and has that rapport.
So when do you actually need to get your first Pap? Well, the risk of death from cervical cancer under the age of 21 is less than one in a million. So there’s no reason to get a Pap test under the age of 21. After that age, you need to get Pap testing at one- to three-year intervals (depending on what the results have been). But don’t misunderstand those guidelines! If you are having any other GYN health problems (like heavy periods) or you’re just sexually active — you need to come in for an annual visit to get STD screening, even though you won’t actually be having a Pap test.
So if you’re 21 or older — go to your doctor, and follow the guidelines so you don’t get cervical cancer.
[Video of a woman in a kitchen with an unopened paper bag on the counter. Caption reads: “My boyfriend wanted to know what a Pap smear test is, so I demonstrated what it felt like.”]
All right, I’m just gonna take a little sample. [She sticks a lint roller into the bag to hold it open then inserts a marker and shakes it violently.]
[in a chirpy voice] Okay, all done!
Doctor Rich [laughing, covering his face with his palm]:
I feel VERY bad for all of these patients who have had this experience with their Pap tests!
As a general rule, none of them are particularly fun. Whereas frankly — as a provider who’s done thousands of exams — this has been eye-opening and humbling! If someone comes at you with a lint brush and a pen… probably go find another provider!
And don’t worry about searching for other Pap TikToks online — we’ve got you covered! Just hit the “subscribe” button to catch all upcoming Pap-related TikTok reactions.