For many young women, cervical screening can be a little bit of an unfamiliar world, and sometimes we become reliant on other female friends to fill in the gaps. However, the information we receive isn’t always right, leaving us confused. Here’s a quick checklist you should tick before having your first cervical screening!
1. You Know What The Test Is And Why It’s Important
Cervical screening is as a medical procedure that checks the health of the cervix, medical experts are able to detect human papillomavirus (HPV), which can lead to the formation of abnormal cells linked to cervical cancer. Therefore, this test is important in the prevention of cervical cancer, as early detections of HPV could prevent cancer from formulating. According to Cancer Council Victoria,”The new cervical screening program means that cervical cancer prevention in Australia will become even more effective, lowering the rate of cervical cancer cases and deaths by at least 20%”.
2. You Are Aware It’s Not The Same As The Old Pap Smear
Since 2017 the pap smear has been replaced with cervical screening. Although, the actual test is physically performed the same way as a pap smear, what can be detected does differ between the two. A Pap smear test only has the capability of detecting the change in cervical cells that have the potential to lead to cervical cancer. In opposition, as mentioned above, the cervical screen test can detect the HPV virus, allowing early detection of cellular changes to the cervix and higher prevention of cervical cancer, not visually identifiable by a pap smear. Therefore, cervical screening is a more accurate test.
3. You Fit The Age Group And Are Eligible For Testing
Back in the day, sexually active women would get a pap smear at the age of 18, however, with cervical screening the age ranges from 25 to 74. Cancer Council Victoria suggests that 25 is the safest age to get your first cervical screening, as cervical cancer under the age of 25 is rare, and screening below this age group hasn’t appeared effective. However, regardless if your under 25 or over, Cancer Council Victoria suggests seeking doctor assistance immediately if you experience any abnormal symptoms, such as pain, discharge or abnormal vaginal bleeding.
4. You’re Not New To Cervical Testing, But Understand Follow Up Procedures For Cervical Screening Have Changed
Cervical screening does apply differently to women who’ve already had a pap smear test. Cancer Council Victoria suggests that women who have had a pap smear in the two years before December 1, 2017, should approach their first cervical testing two years following their last pap smear test. However, if your last pap smear test was longer than two years ago, you need to seek medical advice as soon as possible to discuss getting a cervical screening. After your first cervical screening, follow up procedures should be performed once every five years, if no abnormal symptoms appear.
5. You Know What To Expect And Therefore Have Selected A Medical Practitioner That Ensures Comfort
If you’ve never had pap smear test before, you may be unfamiliar with the whole process. In order for the procedure to work efficiently, samples do need to be collected internally through the vagina, which for many girls can be very confronting! For this reason, I urge you to choose a medical professional that you’re comfortable with. Also, never hesitate to ask for a female health professional, if that’s what makes you feel more comfortable in this situation. First timers, don’t worry the procedure is quick and shouldn’t hurt if it does make sure you notify your health provider of any discomfort straight away.