Not much preparation is necessary for a Pap smear. Still, you should avoid intercourse, douching or using any vaginal medicines or spermicidal foams, creams or jellies for two days before the screening, as these may alter or obscure abnormal cells. You should also try not to schedule a Pap smear during your menstrual period. There is typically no recovery period from a Pap smear, although it is normal to experience mild cramping during the procedure. Some people experience more intense cramping that is similar to or worse than that during a period. Others may notice the cramping lasting one to two days after the test.
There are typically no side effects other than bleeding afterward, which is normal. If bleeding after a Pap smear is from normal causes, such as a cervical scratch, the bleeding should stop within a few hours. Spotting may last for up to two days, but the bleeding will become lighter. Avoid sex and tampon use during this time, as the additional pressure may cause bleeding to start again or become heavier.