Awkward comments and missing cervixes: when pap smears go awry.

Image: Girls (HBO)

Although they’re a necessary and incredibly important part of life, pap smears aren’t high up on any woman’s list of “Fun Things I Love Doing”.

Having someone you’re not romantically involved with peer between your legs with a speculum in hand can be uncomfortable, but if it’s any consolation, every woman has felt a little awkward on the doctor’s table. Some more than others, in fact.

RELATED: You could soon be doing your own Pap smear

Recently, our publisher Mia Freedman recounted one of her particularly memorable pap smears on the Mamamia Outloud podcast:

“So I was in the stirrups, and [my doctor and I were] chatting away about The Bachelor. Then she puts the light on — that’s always a great moment when they put the light on — and then the light broke. I’m in the stirrups. She goes, ‘Oh no, it’s broken, I might have to go and ask someone to come and help me fix it’. I went, ‘Really?’ Then she goes, ‘Maybe I’ll try and fix it myself’ and I said, ‘Maybe you could’. And then she did fix it and we talked about feminism and how good it was to fix something yourself.”

"The light's broken!" Words every woman wants to her during a pap smear.

Inspired by this, we decided to ask if anyone else in the office had experienced a pap smear that was a little awkward, unusual, unsettling or funny. Boy, had they ever... here are their stories:

"So, I was having a biopsy of my cervix and there was a young male resident performing the procedure. I was on the bed, pants down - he started the biopsy and then his phone rang... he put his hands in his pocket, and PICKED IT UP. Yep. He had an actual conversation with his friend WHILE HIS HAND WAS BASICALLY UP MY VAG. It went something like this, "Hey bro, sorry just at work ... yeah, will call you later ... yeah cool, sounds good bro ... ok yep, will call you after." Mortifying."

RELATED: What your doctor is thinking during a pap smear

"Pap smear six weeks after you've had a baby and the stitches haven't completely healed up? Yep... that's not so much fun."

"A (male) doctor once asked me mid-exam why I didn't have kids yet. I was 26. Then, as I was leaving, he said, 'Next time you come back, I want you to be married with a baby on the way'. I never went back there."

Leave your inappropriate comments at the door, Doc.

"A few minutes into one of my pap smears, the nurse stopped her small talk and said, 'Hmmm'. She sounded concerned, so naturally I quietly freaked out. 'What is it?' I asked tentatively. 'Oh, I just can't seem to find your cervix,' she replied cheerily. Yeah, okay, no big deal, one of my essential reproductive parts has just gone AWOL. Cool! However, moments later she located it 'off to the left a little bit'. Just like Beyonce says."


"I had an experience where a doctor put on her gloves, then realised she was out of something. She left the room, opened the door to the store-room, rustled around, came back in, DID NOT CHANGE HER GLOVES and proceeded to examine me. I don’t know why but I was too afraid to speak up and ask her if she’d mind changing the gloves that had been all over the potentially filthy and sick patient-handled door knobs."

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"The first time I went for a pap smear I asked to see the first available doctor... who turned out to be my mum's doctor. I spent the entire time begging her not to tell my mum I had been sexually active. I was sure she would tell her but she didn't. I told mum myself because I was worried and mum started crying. I was 20!"

"I had a pap smear at the budget uni doctor once, and the electricity died mid-exam. The doctor left for what felt like an hour to sort it out, and another random doctor walked in while I was still nude and spread-eagled. In the end I had to get up and move to another room to get it done. I never went back there."

"It's okay, I'll just... wait here, I guess..."

"I've got an inverted uterus. I found that out in a pap test. The doctor muttered something to the nurse and I said, "What?" Then he told me."

"One of my friends once had a gynae tell her she had a 'weird-looking' cervix. That made her a bit self-conscious, so then it was time for her next pap smear she went to a different doctor, who then went to great lengths to reassure her: 'Don't worry, you have a lovely cervix'."

RELATED: 11 things your doctor wishes you wouldn’t do before a pap test.

"During my first pap test my doctor fiddled around down there for ages because she said she couldn't get the instrument in because I was "tensing too much." She told me to relax and I wanted to tell her where to put her instrument."

"I was so scared about my first pap smear that I made my mum come with me, and then I cried after, and then I got a call asking to come back to talk about my results. I was freaking out so much that when I got into my doctor's office I just cried and she was like, 'Oh no, I wasn't actually calling about that, I wanted to talk about something else. Everything's fine!' And she felt so bad that she didn't charge me."

Got any awkward pap smear moments to share with us?

On a more serious note, don't forget to have a pap smear every two years. Sure, a light might break, but the procedure could save your life.