The idea of a Pap smear is enough to make some women cringe. But the fact of the matter is that it’s a necessary ‘evil’ that all women should undergo for the sake of their health. And hey, it really isn’t as unpleasant as some may have made it out to be.
Why Should I Do It?
During the procedure, cells collected from your cervix are tested for abnormalities that may be associated with cervical cancer. Because it identifies the presence of both pre-cancerous and cancerous cells, it screens for both pre-cancer and the cancer itself.
According to the Singapore Cancer Society, cervical cancer is the 10th most commonly occurring cancer among women in Singapore and almost 200 new cases are diagnosed and 70 deaths occur each year from it. However, cervical cancer is curable if detected and treated early so get screened regularly so that so that any issues can be addressed by your doctor ASAP.
How Often Should I Do It?
Get it done if you have engaged in sexual intercourse or are sexually active. Do an initial test once you’re sexually active, then do it once every three years thereafter.
How Is It Done?
Even though it can be nerve-wracking, the entire shindig takes only a few minutes. You lie on your back with your knees drawn up and apart, then a doctor inserts an instrument called a speculum into your vagina, in order to widen it and expose your cervix. Your doctor will then use a small spatula to collect a sample of cells from the outer opening of your cervix. The entire procedure might feel a bit uncomfortable but it shouldn’t cause you much pain. It’s normal to feel a dull pressure but if you are in any kind of pain, let your doctor know immediately.
How Should I Prepare for It?
Make sure you’re clean and fresh so that the procedure isn’t unpleasant for your doctor. For the two days preceding your Pap smear, refrain from having sex and don’t use any vaginal washes, douches, creams or other chemicals, as they can irritate your cervix. And, of course, make sure you’re not on your period too.
Wear a two-piece outfit to your appointment so that it’s easy to remove just your lower bits of clothing. And bring a panty liner as there’s a slight chance of light bleeding or spotting after the test (but in all likelihood, this is really nothing to worry about).
What Do the Results Mean?
An abnormal result doesn’t automatically mean that you have contracted cancer, so don’t panic just yet. You will be asked to do follow-up tests to confirm if there’s anything amiss. Trust your doctor to monitor you in the appropriate way and the way she knows best. Good luck!