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The role of gel application in decreasing pain during speculum examination and its effects on papanicolaou smear results



This study aimed to investigate the effects of water-based gel application in reducing pain or discomfort associated with speculum examination, and compared the presence of unsatisfactory Papanicolaou smear results between gel-applied and control groups.


In this prospective randomized controlled study, a total of 1,580 patients were analyzed. The subjects were randomized to a gel group and a control group. For the collection of the smear sample, water-based gel was used in the gel group and dry speculum was used in the control group. All patients were asked to score their pain on a numeric pain scale at two time points during the procedure (insertion and opening phase of speculum). Cytopathologists who analyzed the smear cytology were blinded to the study. Pain intensity during speculum examination, as well as unsatisfactory smear results, were analyzed between the groups.


The pain scores obtained at two different time points of speculum application were significantly lower in the gel group compared to the control group both in premenopausal and postmenopausal women (p < 0.001). The ratios of unsatisfactory cytopathologic examination results were 1.13 and 1.39 % for the gel-applied and control groups, which were not significantly different.


Lubrication of the outer superior and inferior blade of the plastic vaginal speculum with a small amount of a water-soluble lubricant gel decreases the pain associated with insertion and opening of the vaginal speculum in both premenopausal and postmenopausal women without affecting the quality of the cytology results during the collection of Papanicolaou test specimens.

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Correspondence to Serap Simavli.

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Simavli, S., Kaygusuz, I., Kınay, T. et al. The role of gel application in decreasing pain during speculum examination and its effects on papanicolaou smear results. Arch Gynecol Obstet 289, 809–815 (2014).

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  • Smear
  • Water-based gel
  • Speculum examination
  • Pain
  • Numeric pain scale