Going for a Pap smear test soon? Understand how it is done and what you can do to prepare for the test. Read on to find out more.
What is a Pap smear test?
A Pap smear test is a screening test to check for changes in the cells of your cervix which may develop into cancer later. It is a simple procedure where cells are collected from your cervix and sent to a laboratory for analysis. The test takes only a few minutes and can be done by a nurse or a doctor.
Acknowledgement: Diagram taken from American Academy of Family Physicians
<- Normal cervical cells under the microscope
Acknowledgement: Pictures taken from the American Society of Cytopathology.
How often should you go for a Pap smear?
All woman aged between 25 and 69 years old who ever have had sex are advised to have a Pap smear done once every 3 years.
Where can I have a Pap smear done?
The Pap smear is available at general practitioner clinics and all polyclinics.
How do I prepare myself for the Pap smear?
- Schedule your appointment 2 weeks after the start of your menstrual period
- Avoid sexual intercourse 48 hours before the test
- Do not use spermicides, vaginal creams, lubricant jellies, vaginal medications or tampons two days before the test.
- Wear a two piece outfit as you would need to undress from waist down.
What happens at a Pap smear appointment?
The diagram shows what typically happens when a woman attends for Pap smear appointment at the polyclinic.
How is Pap smear test done?
The Pap smear test is a quick and simple test. First, you will be asked to lie down. A small instrument called a speculum will be inserted into your vagina to get a clear view of your cervix (neck of the womb). The nurse or doctor will then use a small brush to collect some cells from your cervix and smear them onto a glass slide. The cell sample will be sent to the laboratory for tests.
Will the procedure be painful?
You may experience some discomfort during the procedure. To help you relax, take slow deep breaths as the speculum is inserted. If you feel pain, inform the doctor or nurse immediately.
Can cervical cancer be treated?
Yes, cervical cancer can be treated. It is important that you have a Pap smear test once every 3 years so that the cancer can be detected early, when treatment is most effective.
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