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Anal Pap

The Quick Test That May Save Your Life


Updated January 04, 2008

What Is An Anal Pap?

The anal pap is a test similar to the pap test in women. A sample of cells is collected from the anus and rectum. They are then examined under a microscope to identify any structural changes in the cells. These changes can be precursors to anal cancer, a type of cancer on the rise in gay and bisexual men.

The Complete Anal Pap Guide

Understanding The Woman's Pap Test

The Dangers of Anal Cancer

Before The Procedure

While there is no medicinal prep for an anal pap, there are a few things you should and shouldn't do before the pap to prepare for the simple procedure.

24 Hours Before The Anal Pap

  • Bathe or shower before heading to the doctor, making sure to gently wash your rectal and perineal areas with mild soap and warm water.
  • Do not have anal receptive intercourse (sex).
  • Do not put any creams, soaps, lubricants, or medications into your anus.
  • Do not insert sex toys or other objects into your anus.
  • Do not douche or take enemas.

The Anal Pap Procedure

The anal pap screening is a simple, painless, and quick procedure that takes little more than five minutes.
  • With you in a position that offers access to your rectal area, the physician inserts a Dacron swab into the anus.
  • The doctor gently spins the swab, contacting the inner mucousal surfaces of the anal canal.
  • The swab, having collected thousands of mucousal cells when swabbing the walls of the anal canal, is removed.
  • The Dacron swab is placed in a special fixative solution contained in a special laboratory transport vial.
  • The vial containing the swab is sent to the lab where the collected cells will be examined under a microscope.

"Should I Get An Anal Pap?"

After The Procedure

There is very little to do after the anal pap.
  • While the procedure is quick and for most painless, some people may experience some mild discomfort.
  • For people with pre-existing anal canal lesions, warts, or hemorrhoids, there may be a little bleeding afterward.
  • Those people may also notice blood smears on the tissue or in there stool after their first bowel movement.
  • Depending on the facility where you have your anal pap, the results should be in your doctor's hands no later than two weeks after the procedure.

The Role of HPV and Anal Cancer

Important Fact!

  • If bleeding persists after the first bowel movement, notify your doctor.

  • Keep in mind that anal cancer can't be diagnosed with anal paps. The anal pap is just a quick screening that identifies those patients that should be more closely assessed for the signs of anal cancer.

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