How do I prepare for my Pap test?

If it’s time for your two-yearly Pap test, make an appointment with your doctor, nurse, community health or Aboriginal health worker.

It may help to explain to the receptionist or nurse that the appointment is for a Pap test as you may need a longer appointment.

When to have your Pap test

The best time for your appointment is in the middle of your menstrual cycle, a few days after you have finished your period and up to a week or so before your next period is due.

For example, if you have a 28-day cycle, with day 1 being the first day of bleeding and day 28 being the last day before your next period, a good time to have your Pap test would be from day 9 (or two days after bleeding has stopped) to day 20.

If your period is irregular, it can be difficult to predict the best time to have the test. Don’t worry, it is still possible to have a Pap test at other times of the menstrual cycle, but the best chance of a satisfactory sample is mid-cycle.

If you no longer have your periods, any time is suitable for a Pap test.

Image of best time to have Pap during cycle with text

Click image to enlarge

If your test is overdue

If your Pap test is a little overdue, you may receive a reminder letter from the NSW Pap Test Register even after your test. If you have recently had your Pap test, you can ignore this reminder; it just means that your latest results haven’t yet been recorded.

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